Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

drain kids August 14, 2012

Filed under: Commentary — Shawn L. Bird @ 12:31 am
Tags: , , , , , , ,

I’m thinking about grown kids and pondering some things I’ve been noticing lately.

First, it seems that a lot of twenty-somethings these days seem to expect that their parents should still be supporting them financially (and the odd estranged spouse who thinks the OTHER spouse should be supporting adult kids who have been poisoned against them).   I’m kind of baffled by this concept.  It seems to me that if you are no longer living at home, if you are healthy, if you are in school, or if you are in a couple, you are definitely old enough to be responsible for yourself.  I observe many who seem to think they’re entitled to a nice house, a nice car, an expensive education, and a large entertainment budget, and that their parents should still be footing the bill for this.


When do they plan to grow up and be responsible for themselves?

I was married at 21.  Our wedding budget was $1000.  We went to school, scrimped, shopped at thrift stores, had babies, and we never moved back in with our parents.  We couldn’t afford a honeymoon, or even vacations for many years.  We visited our parents.  Now, our parents definitely tried to help us out.  They would always send us home with groceries, baking, canned goods, and even clothing.  But we never would have imagined monthly financial support from them.  They didn’t even help with tuition unless we were paying them back (which we did promptly).

We still earned degrees, bought progressively bigger houses, and eventually went on vacations.   I know it’s possible to do this even now, and know young couples who have a mature and responsible view to their independence.

The drain children alarm me.   I feel particularly for their parents, who are being manipulated by kids who won’t talk to them if they’re not forking over cash.  At the same time, I recognise that parents often like to help their kids and feel good to know they’re giving them a leg up.  When those kids are ungrateful, malicious, or obnoxious, I don’t think there is anything wrong with  letting them live with the logical consequences and to earn their way.  When they’ve been supported, helped, loved and encouraged their whole lives and then are horrible to their parents, I think that is a sign of immaturity that requires some time and distance.  At some point they have to learn what mutual respect looks like.   I’ve heard the, “but then I’ll lose them” argument and I wonder at what point we let our kids make their own choices?  It’s like that poster from the 70s,

If you love something, set it free.  

If it comes back to you, it’s yours.  

If it doesn’t, it never was.

They can leave, and they can come back when they’ve matured a bit and learned to be responsible for their own decisions and budget.  (Or more likely, when they need grandparents to help babysit.)  We do the best we can as parents, but we have to let them go at some point!  They have to be free to make mistakes so they can grow.  They have to be pushed out of the nest even if they sit on the ground peeping frantically, convinced they can’t do it.  We have to force them to learn to use their wings, or they’ll never fly.

What do you think?  Are you a 20-something? Are you supported by your parents?  Are you a parent?  Are your kids a drain?


12 Responses to “drain kids”

  1. I feel my parents supported me a lot. I lived at home while in school, although I paid my tuition. When I got married I was living away, still in school (12 yrs of school!). My parents and I laws were very generous with presents and food when they visited. I lived with my parents again while my husband studied abroad, which helped me take care of the kids while being a single mom. And when my parents become frail and can’t care for themselves, I will take care of them, as I helped feed, clean and get my grandmother to doctor visits . It’s all part of being s family!

    • Shawn Bird Says:

      It sounds as if you appreciated and recognised your parents efforts on your behalf, and understand reciprocity. Such mutual respect is the framework for a successful family structure!

  2. Ellen Dechesne Says:

    What could be more obvious?

    Let them go. You (60-something) have maybe 15 good years left and then it’s the Big Slide into dementia. Enjoy this time. Your “kids” have another 60 years to “get it”. Move forward. Live your own life and let them live theirs, thrift shops notwithstanding.

    single parenting a 19 and a 15-year-old

    • Shawn Bird Says:

      lol. I’m a very long way from 60, and my dad is nearing a century with no sign of dementia, I hope I have a many healthy years ahead. (If the math is awkward, I was a very late in life child).

  3. What you have observed is absolutely true..and alarming. It’s also a microcosm of today’s society, which is now based on instant gratification. Much today is based on working less and realizing more. Online colleges instead of driving (taking the bus?) to class, computers rather than typing (writing longhand?), and instant everything-in-a-box-just-add-water. Sign of the times. Parents inherently want more for their kids, but don’t realize that you SHOULD fail a few times, just to get the feeling of what it’s like..and why you don’t want it to happen anymore. The best boxers in the world have been knocked down a few times. As I saw it written once, “It’s not how many times you fall; it’s how many times you get back up.”
    I blame the parents, if you didn’t get that. Mine didn’t teach me that I was going to get everything I needed. I worked for it. So did about all the other kids in my generation – and every generation back into time. Society is lazy…and getting lazier every day. Sad…and sobering…when you think that today’s loafers are going to be running things…Lord help us all…

    • Shawn Bird Says:

      Your comment reminds of this famous quotation:
      “The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.” Socrates (469–399 B.C.)

      • Wow! If he only knew, huh? I have the good fortune to have a son that’s relatively free of a lot of things I see others doing – but by no means completely free 🙂
        Kids will test us..the boundaries, the resolution, the courage…and in turn, they need to be shown a brick wall. Not for our good…for theirs. As Qui Gon Jin (remember Star Wars?) once said..”There’s always a bigger fish”

      • Wow! If he only knew, huh? I have the good fortune to have a son that’s relatively free of a lot of things I see others doing – but by no means completely free 🙂
        Kids will test us..the boundaries, the resolution, the courage…and in turn, they need to be shown a brick wall. Not for our good…for theirs. As Qui Gon Jin (remember Star Wars?) once said..”There’s always a bigger fish”

  4. In my mind… that is what family is here for. But hear me out.

    I would be happy to be a self-sufficient grown up. But that requires a chance, of work of further education of getting the experience every job requires! Also it would require work I truly want to do. I have only one life and I do not intend to waste anymore of it doing something for someone I do not agree with or can’t stand behind it.

    If you have a child, you do not have it only till it’s 18 or of age… it is your child forever, even with 30 or 40 it will come to you for guidance and maybe money.

    How come people don’t complain about the rich who have the power to create a job, a company for loved ones… to make them appear to be productive and successful? The job-creators in a different sense. (don’t tell me it doesn’t happen… we have even a short-hand for it PKZ=Pappi-Kann-Zahlen, Dad-Can-Pay) My dad couldn’t and hadn’t supported us. My mother did and does.

    I applaud your dedication, you wrote that you had to abstain from a lot of things. Make due and muddle through. While still achieving many things. Could times be a bit different now? Comparing from your time, your economy, your school system does not seem fair. Many things have changed.

    These days everybody needs everything right away. A car, holidays in exotic places, his own place by 18… because living at home is just unbearable or because society expects it?, Marriage with all the bells and whistles…

    I have no car! My kind of holidays is a weekend or a day trip somewhere in my country, marriage or children I find hard to consider without work, without any expectation of getting any (unemployable due to too long unemployment, funny eh?).

    What we decided in our family… was that we would stay together, to help us out in dry times to be able to take care of our grandmother and maybe sometimes in the future our mother. Rather than splitting an inheritance 5 ways we put everything together to give us a home. (this was a wise decision because before we bought the house the money was mostly invested in stocks).

    So in a sense I am one of these lot talked about 20+ who is living at home, to top it all of with his mother! I would not want it any other way!

    I see it as a return to the core meaning of family. Government should thank any one who has the courage to go back to their parents, should applaud every parent who is prepared to continue supporting their children even it does not seem social acceptable anymore.

    But we are being scorned, as lazy or taken advantage off. We are unlucky in some ways, but lucky to have a family. Maybe this is a good thing so people who are unlucky because they have no family maybe they still have some Government systems or friends to help them out… or a family who take care of them as well. As ours did for a few people over the years.

    It is altruism, charity, caring and loving for someone.

    Probably there are a few who take advantage of these situations, but there are also a fair few cheats in the health-care system and we do not intend to suspend this only because of a few malcontents.

    It seems these things where on my mind. Your post and your call for comments did not go unheeded. Though I am not sure if the necessary politeness might be missing from this comment.

    let my (almost) last line be this: great post, made me think, made me write, sorry if I have offended you.


  5. I’m way past my twenties but I did live with my parents for a very long time. At first I joined the Army and spent 4 years serving my country, then I came home. I moved into my own apartment at age 31, however for all the years I lived with my parents I had a job and paid for my own phone and clothing. My parents helped me but also encouraged me to move out onto my own. I never married or had children but I do have my 17 year old girl cousin living with me. However her situation was just the opposite. She did not have a stable home environment, her mother has had a drug addiction problem for years which of course led to homelessness. They lived like vagabonds. However I’m lending my support to the girl so she can go to college, get a decent job and one day move into her own place. Hopefully for other 20 somethings affected by the economy who cannot find jobs I hope things do improve for them. However they must be ready to take whatever jobs are available until something better comes along.

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