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
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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.

Really?

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?

 

ironies April 26, 2012

Filed under: Commentary — Shawn L. Bird @ 5:50 pm
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I was just noticing one of the ironies of personal communication.

Someone can crush your heart by their behaviour, and if you choose to tell them, in hopes that they will change the behaviour, or at least recognize that there is another perspective,  with alarming frequency, instead of acknowledging your hurt, they will deny it.  Beyond just denying your feelings, they frequently turn around and get angry at you for being hurt.

This is a very good argument for never allowing anyone to have the power to touch your heart, isn’t it? Affection is a messy business, and when the people we trust to be safe havens for our trust prove unworthy, it can be particularly nasty.

If the attacks prove consistent, and it’s a friend who is the source of hurt, then you can cut them out of your life.  It is simple enough to fade away.   Sometimes though, you’re actually related to the person who is routinely disrespectful to you, and then things get more complicated!

Parents are particularly prone to this experience about the time their kids hit puberty.  All those precious moments of mutual adoration suddenly come to a screeching halt and the poor parents are left wondering who put that unreasonable banchee into their kid’s bedroom. What once was a relationship of caring becomes one of distrust. All motives are presumed to be cruel and vindictive. All common courtesies are seen as violations of liberty.  How do you deal with the lack of respect and consideration when the source lives in the same house?  That’s a recipe for some serious stress.

I hang around with a lot of teen-agers, of course, and I see a lot of shell-shocked parents.

I already shared in a past blog about The Cat Years. It’s a lovely metaphor about how our happy, friendly little dogs (pre-teens) hit puberty and turn into taciturn cats. The premise is that if we keep trying to treat them like dogs, we’ll be unhappy. Instead, parents need to acknowledge they now have cats in the house, and change their behavior. Cats have different needs than dogs.

A little TLC for the parents is required during the process, though. Long walks, spa visits, spousal affection, concerts… Eventually it gets better. Eventually the kids learn that their parents are worthy of respect and kindness. Some just take longer than others to become happy puppies again.  Occasionally they revert to being cats again.

In the meantime, one can appreciate the irony, without appreciating it.

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(PS. Yes, grammar nazis, I used the singular pronoun ‘someone’ with the plural pronoun ‘they’ but you know as well as I do that that is common use as a neutral singular pronoun, and there’s no way we’re going to win the fight to stop it).

 

helpless kids? February 26, 2012

Filed under: Commentary,Teaching — Shawn L. Bird @ 11:09 am
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Mickey Goodman has written a blog to argue Tim Elmore’s point that kids born 1984 to 2002 are helpless because they have unreasonable expectations of personal reward to their effort. They think they’re special, whether they do anything worthy or not.

Check out “Are we raising a generation of helpless kids?”  What do you think of the issues raised in this article?  If you were born between 1984 and 2002, what do you expect from life?  What are you doing to achieve your goals?

 

 
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