“Sorry girls, that’s just my job,” my dad would always say to my sister, Emily, and I when we complained about doing chores around the house. The “job” he referred to was parenting. He always said that it was his duty as a parent to make sure that when we grew up, we knew how to take care of ourselves and live independently.
So from the time we were young kids, Emily and I were unloading the dishwasher and doing our own loads of laundry. Small household tasks eventually transferred over to more meaningful “adult” responsibilities with time – such as acquiring jobs, buying our own cars, and learning how to take responsibility.
There’s no handbook for how to perfectly parent. That’s another thing my dad always use to say. He wasn’t a perfect parent, and I’m not sure anyone truly is. I can imagine that one of the biggest challenges as a parent is finding the right balance between loving and caring for your children while also teaching them how to live without you.
We Need Independence
When I went away to college, I was amazed by the lack of independence so many of my classmates had. Some people didn’t know how to put air in their tires, mail a package, or schedule a doctor’s appointment for themselves. I often asked people how they’ve gotten all the way to college without learning how to complete such simple tasks, and their response was always the same: “I don’t know, my parents always just did it for me.”
The problem is, though, that when children move away, they’re lost at how to take care of themselves. Or even worse, they’re reluctant to leave home and wish to stay under their parent’s wing longer than they probably should. Why leave if you have people taking care of all your needs?
We Need Reality
Of course, every kid would like their parents to forever take care of all their household chores, financial responsibilities, and other necessary tasks for the rest of their lives.
But that’s not how the world works. We grow up, and we must learn to support ourselves in more ways than one. This is not to say that I advocate for parents kicking their children out of the house and watching them squirm until they succeed.
Rather, as a member of the iGeneration, I ask parents to not coddle their adulting children. While this may seem commonplace, I’ve seen firsthand how prevalent this problem is and how it affects young adults trying to navigate the world, completely unprepared.
We Need Understanding
I won’t preach a perfect parenting style or “correct” way to parent, because I don’t think that exists. Every person varies in how they communicate, making each family dynamic completely different from the next. Finding a parenting style that works for both you and children’s best interest is something you must challenge yourself to figure out.
However, I do urge parents to constantly be evaluating and updating their parenting methods. Your children are evolving and need their parents to adapt with them. Being in touch with your children’s age and capabilities is one way to help guide the responsibilities you decide to place on them. If you have more than one child, this is very important, as not every kid will follow the same “growing up” schedule as the next. Being aware of the factors in each child’s life and what they need to grow and become more independent is a skill that children need their parents to acquire.
I began my first job when I was 17 years old, and my sister started hers when she was 16 years old. We had different challenges during our high school years, and my parents understood that there was no set age for us to begin working. However, they made it clear that learning accountability and how to be a respectful worker is something we needed to learn, when the right time came for each of us.
We Need Tough Love
Financial responsibility is something children need to learn from their parents and elders, but they also need to learn how to problem solve and figure things out on their own. Calling home to mom and dad to ask a question is a safe bet, but it won’t always help us kids to grow and learn for ourselves.
While we may not like when our parents are firm, we must come accept that it’s in our best interest. For that, we’ll come to respect you more for teaching us the ways of the world.
I’m certainly not the most equipped 21-year-old kid ready to take on the world, but I feel confident that my parents prepared me for what’s to come. If you’d like to hear more insights from the iGeneration about the kind of parenting we know we need, Ask a Pup – we’d love to chat!
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