Parenting 18-23 year olds that are having trouble growing up…
This spring, I had the pleasure of having a bird’s eye view of nesting crows. Out of the 2nd story window of my neighborhood gym, I watched 4 crow chicks mature. The window was only about 2 feet from their amazingly constructed nest of branches. I watched the crows fly back and forth feeding those four hungry mouths. They grew so quickly! However, I knew the day would come when mom and dad would “encourage” them to fly. I am sure these chicks had no idea what was to come!
Sure enough, I came back one day and they were all gone. I imagined that Mom or Dad “nudged” (aka pushed) them out of the nest with their beaks. “Off you go little ones…you will flap your wings and probably crash to the ground---dust yourself off, and flap like crazy. Believe it not, you will be able to fly!” they might have said.
More and more, I hear about young people who are having trouble fledging from their nest. For some reason, not entirely well understood, it seems to be young men these days that are having trouble finding their way into adult life. Many of these guys, on the younger end of this age group, are not really interested in going off to college quite yet. They “want” to work, but they seem to spend a lot of time playing video games. They don’t spend a lot of time hitting the pavement looking for a job. This can also be true for fellows that complete college, return home, and are also hanging around not doing very much.
Nowadays, a college degree doesn’t mean an automatic high paying job.
I also have heard that many of these guys enjoy smoking a fair amount of marijuana. “It helps me relax!” says one young man. “I like the way it makes me feel!” says another. “Hey it’s legal now,” says a third. But I notice that these adults aren’t doing very much.
Their parents are frustrated and don’t know what to do.
There are many reasons for this phenomenon. There is no question that our lousy, high unemployment economy is a contributing factor. It’s harder to find a job and takes more effort than in better economic times. It’s tough not to get discouraged. But parents get plain mad when junior is up to 3 a.m. playing “Warcraft II” and sleeps to noon or one o’clock the next day!
This generation has a different work ethic than “baby boomers” or “Generation X’ers”. I would have died before I had to live with my parents after I finished my education. I wanted and expected to be independent. Millennial’s and their cousins seem to be less in a rush to pay their own rent.
These kids have everything. Their parents are more affluent than our parents were. So they have all the bells and whistles of this era. We were generous--maybe too giving. They came to expect that we would provide.
We expected that they would have the same drive for independence that we had. Where did we get that dumb idea? Why would they be just like us? They grew up during a different time, far more affluent than we were when we coming up.
So what can us mama and poppa “crows” do to help out chicks fledge?
You gotta nudge them out of the nest. But what if they can’t fly? What if they crash on the pavement? What if they become homeless? I know, it’s scary. Remember that necessity is the “mother of invention”. This can be accomplished in a graduated manner. But, nudge you must.
You and your partner have to be on the same page. United you stand, divided you fall. Often one spouse is the believer in “tough” love and the other is the “soft” love advocate. It doesn’t matter. Come to an agreement and support each other.
Be consistent. Don’t make threats that you later retract. Don’t “react”, instead “respond” thoughtfully. But, stand your ground.
Get help. I spend a lot of my professional time coaching parents on how to help their son and daughter become more independent. An objective voice can be very helpful.
Have you had problems with your son or daughter fledging? What’s helped you?