Life Compass
Keeping You Pointed in the Right Direction

Stunted Growth

What are some parents afraid of?

It is normal for young adult children to have some apprehension about leaving home. It is normal for some new high school graduates not to feel ready for the next step of life. It is even normal for some young adults (early 20’s) to still live at home. What is not normal is to live at home and still carry on with life as if they are still kids. I will illustrate in a moment. The other night my wife and I were watching an old episode of Family Ties. The Keaton’s were preparing for the arrival of a new baby. Mom and Dad planned an entire weekend with the kids who had other plans. Why? They (children) were getting older and had different needs and goals. Eventually by show’s end they did get a couple of hours of family time BUT the message was clear: getting older means growth and growth means CHANGE!

Oh, and change is HEALTHY!

When a young adult is apprehensive about leaving and growing up it is up to the adult parent to push and make that happen. It’s the same as the mother Eagle who forces her offspring out of the nest and to spread their own wings and fly. In other words, our job as parents is to raise our kids to become adults and leave home.

When young adults don’t leave (Failure to Launch) it is the fault of the parent. Period. Now, some college adults live at home while in school or starting their job and life. Fine …. for a time and a season. Usually these young people have lives separate from mom and dad. Home is nothing more than a place to sleep, grab a shower, do some laundry, and have an occasional meal. When these adults aren’t in school or working … they are with their friends living life. Young adults who are still treated like kids (meals prepared, laundry done for them, no rent, bedroom still in the decor of a 15 year old, allowed to spend their money on anything and everything but living a disciplined, fiscal, responsible life) are being harmed for life. Some parents still carry on with traditions and practices like they are still raising five year olds. That says a lot about the parent and their issues. What are they afraid of?

Is the raising of small children their only validation in life? Are they that  afraid of being empty nesters alone with their spouse? Have their identities become so lost in their kids they have no idea who they are anymore? Couples who never have couple time and everything is about family – family – family … are in trouble. IF they remain together after their middle age children finally leave home they are the couple that sit silently at the restaurant eating and staring but not speaking.

Sometimes people with marital or emotional issues cover that up to the world with the facade of a happy family who love to do things together. Young men won’t be looking for a wife but rather another mommy. These young men are usually demanding and controlling of any relationship with a young lady they manage to begin. Most young ladies won’t put up with it for very long. Sending your college young person a goodie box or Easter basket to their dorm is one thing. Sending your adult child on a treasure hunt for a goodie is not normal. Sorry … it’s not. Girls who are so doted on by daddy have a hard time in relationships because the future husband is not only compared to daddy but has his own manhood is stripped away because she runs to daddy with every issue instead of her husband.

Instead of being young adults who make mistakes and move on as part of the maturing process they become emotional handicap’s with a skewed view of life, a sense of entitlement, and lack of drive and vision. Why not … everything is still handed to them as if they are ten. They are nothing more than young adult Peter Pan’s and Willie Wonka’s. Great stories … tragic realities for far too many families.

This is about parental selfishness NOT love! This is not real love but a perversion of it. Real love prepares a child for life’s tests and struggles.

Not to mention… holding on means holding them back. How will they ever truly discover what God has for them if YOU won’t let go?

It’s hard to watch your child struggle when every impulse is to jump and “kiss it” and make it better. BUT the short term gain causes long term, life long damage. My son, Andrew, recently felt as if he wasn’t getting the recognition he had earned by his baseball coach. I listened but did NOTHING. He has the highest batting average on the team, a good fielding percentage, and is an overall very good player. I refused to do the parental call the coach interference thing. Why? Andrew has a life time of injustice and proving himself ahead of him. One night he went to see the coach on HIS OWN. They talked … next game he got the position he wanted and moved to clean up in the batting order which he rewarded the coach for by driving in two runs in the last inning to tie the game and give his team a chance for the win. Andrew was all smiles. Not because he delivered (which he has done all season) but because he took a major stride toward manhood by working this out for himself!

My son Ira mowed the lawn of our church in New York. He had to go (at age 11 and 12 and 13) to the deacon chairman and workout his compensation. Not me.

I wish I had a dollar for every phone call I got from a parent who felt like their kid didn’t get the part in the school play they deserved, didn’t get enough playing time on the basketball team, didn’t —-fill in the blank.

When my two older children were very young people in our church showered them with gifts. Why? They were the cute, cuddly Pastor’s kids. As they got older the gifts stopped. Why? The cute factor wore off. I didn’t allow my younger two to get those gifts. Why? They didn’t need to develop a sense of entitlement.

I tried never to interfere or override a teacher’s disciplinary process with any of my children. I still don’t. Have I ever felt like they were served an injustice? Yes. But life is filled with injustices. Part of preparing them for life is preparing them with how to deal with it. A man I have known most my life spent most of children’s lives harassing teachers, threatening principals and guidance counselors … today his adult kids are a mess.  Sad. It didn’t need to happen. They were not born with genetic defects. Their maturing process and character development was stunted by their parents.

Let your kids stand up on their own. Let them fall down and get back up. Let them make mistakes, learn from their consequences and move on. Let them grow up. LET THEM GO!

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