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?