I received an advance copy of this e-book in exchange for my honest review and opinion.
I am a child of the 1980’s. I was born in 1981, at the tail end of what has been termed “Generation X”. My parents were born in 1961 and 1963, at the very beginning of Generation X. While we are from the same generation, our parenting styles differ greatly.
When I was a kid, I walked to school with my best friend every day. Our parents didn’t walk with us, and they didn’t drive us to school, or walk us inside to our classroom to make sure we arrived there safe and sound. They trusted that we would walk straight to school, and not run into any trouble along the way. And, we did.
After school, we would walk back home, alone. We were sometimes “latch-key” kids, meaning that our parents would give us a key to get into the house because they were not home when we returned. They once again put a lot of trust in us, and felt that we were responsible enough to stay home alone for a couple of hours until they came home. And, we were.
Summer days and weekends were spent walking across town to the drugstore to replenish our stash of penny candy, stopping at the convenience store to cool off with a Slush Puppie, taking a quick dip in the town pool, swinging as high as we could at the playground, or riding our bikes all around town. All of this was done without any adult supervision. Oh, and we never wore a bike helmet either.
My friends and I were pretty much given the freedom to do whatever we wanted, within reason. We never had to check in with our parents while we were out having fun, and growing up. There were no cell phones for us to call them with. Most of the time, they had no idea where we were or what we were doing. They simply expected us to return home for dinner, and we did.
I want my kids to have the same fun experiences I did as a child, but here’s the thing… I have found myself turning into a “helicopter parent”, meaning I hover over my children and don’t allow them the freedom to make decisions for themselves.
My kids are very young, so I do have to keep a constant eye on them still, but I can already tell I am headed towards that helicopter parent mentality where I will have to know where my kids are and what they are doing at all times, or I will simply go mad!
I absolutely don’t want to turn into that parent. I want to give my children the same freedom I had when I was young. They need to learn from their mistakes just like I did. They need to become adults.
I was very intrigued when I heard about the book “How to Raise an Adult” by Julie Lythcott-Haims. I just knew that I had to read this, for my sake, and for my kids’ sake. This book was full of valuable lessons and information, and did not disappoint!
In her book, Julie Lythcott-Haims writes about her experience as a freshman dean of students at Stanford University. It really came as no surprise to me that most college students still rely heavily on their parents for the most basic things. I worked for a lawyer for more than 10 years. He was also a landlord and owned several apartment buildings that catered to college students. I dealt with many college students, and their parents too. They were very involved in their child’s lives still, even though they were technically considered an adult, and should have been old enough to make decisions on their own at that point.
“Without experiencing the rougher spots of life, our kids become exquisite, like orchids, yet are incapable, sometimes terribly incapable, of thriving in the real world on their own.”
One part of Julie’s book that really resonated with me, was when she told the story of a time she saw a mother and her 8 year old child crossing a busy street together. The mother looked left and right, and then left again, and the child never once looked up from the cell phone he was staring at.
When we are always present with our children, thinking that they will always be safe, as long as we are there to help them, they never have to learn to do anything for themselves, and the above story is a perfect example. Why would the child look up from his cell phone to make sure the intersection is safe to cross, if his mother has always been there to make sure it’s ok? He is relying on her to do something that he should be doing for himself at that age.
So, how do we allow our children to become adults, and keep them safe at the same time? Teach them life skills, starting at a young age. Kayleigh is only 2 years old, and I already have her helping me cook in the kitchen and helping me clean the house. These are things she will have to do for herself some day.
Teach your children to know important names, addresses and telephone numbers in case of an emergency. Allow them to play freely. Teach them about the value of money, and how to take pride in their personal belongings. It is also very important for you to listen to them, to what they really want, and not force things on them. Let them make their own decisions. They will grow up to be very smart, independent individuals that will make you beam with pride.
What tips do you have for raising your kids to be adults?
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.