As a parent, I try really hard to never judge other parents because I hate when people tell me what I should or shouldn’t be doing to raise a child. You never know someone else’s personal situation, so it’s best never to make assumptions about how awesome or poor parenting skills might be. However, I can’t help but notice a seemingly alarming number of teens or young adults recently that really have no goals and pretty much do nothing, relying on Mom and Dad to support them long after Mom and Dad should be enjoying an empty nest. My daughter is only six, so I’ve got a few years, but I’m already wondering how does a kid end up with no motivation? How far should parents go to support their children when the kid puts forth no effort of their own?
I have a neat job where I get to see many families annually over the course of several years. In a small town, you kind of get to know people and what their kids are involved with and hope to become. Sometimes, though it’s disappointing.
A few months ago, I had a teenager who came in with his Mom for an exam. My tech does some pre-testing before I see the patient, and we’ve seen just about everything over the years. However, this kid was maybe the most rude person we’ve ever had. When asked how he was, he said he thought it was stupid he had to be here. When asked what grade he was in, he said he didn’t go to school. When asked where he worked, he said he didn’t. Seeing a pattern, my tech asked him what he did with his time if he didn’t work or go to school. The kid said his Mom was trying to get him sent to juvenile detention, but couldn’t.
After some investigating, I found that he had been expelled from one school, so his Mom moved to another district. He was about to be expelled from that school when she threatened to sue for discrimination if they kicked him out. As a result, the school assigned a special education teacher who sits with this kid all day because he is too disruptive to be in a classroom. I guess they will keep him until he’s old enough to drop out or age out.
The other case is a sweet girl I’ve seen for over a decade. She is now 21. Her Mom and Dad are hard workers and good people. Mom came in a while back, and I asked about the daughter. She said that she had tried school, but dropped out and now lives at home. She refuses to get a job and has no idea what she wants to do with her life. The daughter came in this week. I asked her what she had been doing lately, and she said, “Nothing.” I asked if she had any plans. “No.” I said that must get boring sometimes. “Yeah, I guess.”
What Happened in a Generation?
I am not saying that my generation works any harder or is more motivated than anyone else. You can look at all the millennials and Gen X’ers in the blogosphere and see that is not the case, but when I was young, one of two things happened. You either finished school and went on to college then got a job, or you got a job right out of school. I’ve know people who have lived with their parents, but they got a job. Do you see a common theme here? J-O-B
I realize that the job market has not been amazing over the last few years, but I know there are various service industry type jobs, at least in our town, that are always hiring. The wages might not be much, but at least you aren’t sitting on the couch watching the Kardashians or playing Angry Birds all day. Even if you have no idea what you want to do with your life, you can at least participate in society and help out Mom and Dad in the process.
What’s a Parent To Do?
Again, not trying to judge, but if you complain about your kid’s laziness while you feed, clothe, house, and basically take care of all their needs, how do you expect they will ever have a desire to support themselves? I believe if I were ever faced with that situation, this is what I’d do. If my kiddo wants to live with me after the age when she should be trying to make it on her own, I doubt I’d kick her to the curb, but I’d have a few rules.
1) Pay for Rent and/or Utilities-She could pay us rent to live at home. If she was working toward a degree or earnestly looking for a job and needed to save up money, I wouldn’t make her pay, but if she just wanted to be lazy, there would be no free ride.
2) Pay for Transportation– She could pay for gas and upkeep on our car if she wanted to use it.
3) Be Productive– I would not let my grown child sit around and do nothing all day. If she wanted to live with me and didn’t have a job, she’d have to spend the days looking for one, helping me with house hold jobs, and/or improving her skills in some way. If she didn’t want to go to school, then she could start learning a foreign language or how to use whatever technology is available then. She could volunteer for a charity. Anything besides being a lazy couch potato.
4) Be Ready to Evict– I can’t imagine having to tell your child to get out, but I think if there is never that treat, the kid might not ever develop any motivation. You have to practice what you preach. I bet the kids in my examples would not last two seconds on their own, and being in the real world might motivate them really quickly.
Hopefully, we will set high expectations and good examples so our daughter will never know the option of being lazy, but if we fail, I hope to look back on these ideas someday so that I’m not supporting a lazy adult/child.
How far should parents go to support kids who don’t want to support themselves? Could you kick out your child if they refused to become and adult? Any young people care to comment in defense of their generation?