Preparing Your Kids for the Real World
If you want your children to turn out well, spend twice as much time with them and half as much money.— Abigail Van Buren
It is just common sense. I am no Dr. Phil with a PhD in Psychology. I am a wife, a mom, and a teacher, and I am worried about our future. Not so much because I think all our kids are bad or irresponsible, but because some parents are irresponsible. Kids become what their parents or surrounding adults teach them or don’t teach them.
Oh, I admit I have not been the best role model for my two children, but teaching them to use common sense and to stand on their own two feet have been major goals with the way my husband and I have raised them. We have made our share of mistakes and will continue to do so. For instance, we get angry with our kids if they behave like the world owes them something. That is partially our fault because they have never wanted for anything, but we have instilled work ethic in them. We are quick to tell them, “No one owes you anything, and you must work for your place in this world.” Also, when we see this "the world owes me something for simply existing" attitude, we don’t just tell them to get busy earning their place. We talk to them about how they should achieve it, and we share personal experiences from our lives with them. Kids think parents are so archaic with no clue and seem shocked when they hear something they can relate to in us.
From a Teacher's Perspective
As a high school teacher I see this “the world owes me something for simply existing” attitude quite often. I tell my students the same thing I tell my kids about having good work ethic, but my students are not always as receptive. Do not get me wrong, we have some great kids with great work ethics, but we also have those kids who fall back on their parents to get them through a sticky situation. Parents are doing their kids no favors by fighting their battles. Whatever happened to the days of “if you are in trouble at school, you are in trouble at home, too”?
Educators do not choose the teaching profession for the money and, even though they have years of higher education and much real world experience, there are still parents who treat teachers as second class citizens, especially if little Johnny or Abbi didn’t get his or her points on a sloppy job they did on a project the night before though it was assigned three weeks earlier.
As parents, what are we teaching our kids when we fight to allow them to turn something in late when they had every chance to do it in class or plenty of time before the assignment is due?
What are we teaching our kids when they show disrespect to others and we stand by them?
What are we teaching our kids about authority when we barge in and fight against authority even when we KNOW our kids are wrong?
What are we teaching our kids when we place them above all else when they have not deserved the position of honor?
If kids see their parents fighting battles for them when parents know they are wrong, aren’t they going to think their parents will always take care of their problems and give into a life of mediocre morals? Aren’t they given a false sense of security that is worthless in the real world? Aren’t they being set up for failure or a long, rough road of disappointment in life?
Sometimes, as hard as it is to discipline and say no, it is just as hard to watch our kids knowing they are making a mistake. Isn't it better, in many cases, to stand back so the kid will have to take ownership of his/her mistake and accept the consequences.
Parenting is not for pushovers.
Parents Must Have a Backbone
Then we have parents who don’t want to be parents. They either don’t pay attention to their kids, give no encouragement, give no direction, and/or possibly kick their kids out of the home because “they [the parent] can’t handle them [their children]." WHAT ARE THEY THINKING?
Even if a high school kid is 18 years old and has a job, what message is being passed along if a parent kicks the kid out to fin for themselves? Even animals know how to care for their young and know when to let them go. Parents who kick their children out before they are ready to face the world are just as immature and incompetent as their offspring. Parents must teach kids how to live in the world: survival skills. Parents who give up on their kids need to realize they are the adults, and they need to take control of what is happening to their child. Strength and a sturdy backbone
As a side note, if a "kid" is 30 years old, not working, or is working at a dead-end job and still partying or just laying around, while still living at home, it's time to have the backbone to tell the kid to get out. Parents have to choose the right time to cut the cord. It is a timing issue. You can't cut it too soon, and you can't let it go too long.
Some parents need to stop with the "I want my kid to have more than I did." In most cases, kids do have more than their parents because their parents spoil them by spending money and giving them all they want. That seems to be a prescription to gaining a 30-year-old child/adult lying on the couch in the future because that child peaked early and doesn't want to do anything else. The child has everything the parent worked for but nothing that he or she has worked for.
Kids Are Going to be Kids
Kids will get away with whatever they are allowed to get away with if parents don’t step up with some discipline, love, consistency, attention, and encouragement. It is not rocket science; it is common sense, but it is also easier said than done.
Kids are going to be a challenge, but parents did bring them into this world and need to take responsibility. Some people do a better job of training their pets than they do in teaching their children.
Teach Kids How to Live in a Better Future
Our kids have to face the world, and sometimes its an ugly place. It is up to parents to prepare them for the good and the bad.
How many of us want to support our kids “until death do us part”? I married my husband for that role in my life, and I had our children to love and to care for and to feel joy in my life. The least I can do is take responsibility for them by trying to teach them how to be productive members of society. I want them to have joy in their life, but they can't have that if they do not appreciate the simple things in life and are always expecting more.
If we work on our children as much as we do on other passions in our lives, maybe our world’s future will become more stable. As adults, we cannot blame our kids for all of their wrongdoing. We must either step up and be the responsible adult or suffer the consequences as a society. Our kids grow up and start making choices too. What do we want for our senior years? For our grandchildren and their children? It is up to today’s parents to bring in a brighter future even if that means showing some tough love and lots of compassion for our kids. Both actions can coexist. Be someone your kid is going to respect and want to VISIT later in life.
How do you define yourself as a parent?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
© 2012 Susan Holland