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Parenting 20 somethings
Parenting 20 year old's and our struggles: Learning to cut the emotional cord WSG 75
Several subjects come up regularly with my extended group of friends: ailing parents and the care they need (and won’t accept), our own physical and mental aging (“middle age”), and parenting or mentoring late teen-twenty something kids. Summer allows for more kid related observations because they tend to be around or at least in and out more than during the school year (or between college and job, or between job and grad school).
Someday, the kids will be working full time and I won’t need to harp on their crapping of the house LINK.I am sure I will miss the ease with which the kids can come and go, their schedules permitting more freedom now than in the future. I’m sure I’ll miss their little shoes popped off just as they enter the house. Right there in the middle of the damn entryway. Dark shoes on dark carpet. So when I come in the door and think I’m about to walk into a clutter free zone, as I typically do several times a day, I stumble over the shoes left there by one of my cherubs. If they have been home for more than a few days (and the thrill is gone), I curse and kick the shoes to the side so no one else will be booby trapped when they come into the house. I’ll miss (no I won’t) when I use the bathroom, MY (our) bathroom, and there is no toilet paper on the holder. There was. I used it last night, but now, it’s gone. Where is it? It’s across the hall in the kid’s bathroom. The funny part is that in the linen closet at the end of the hall, only a few feet away from their bathroom, are six rolls of toilet paper. None of this is helpful to me, because I am trapped on the John with no wipe available. And, no one will come to my rescue. I’ll stop there.
Though serial crappings of the house do lead to a serious dose of emotional upheaval (my home! It was so clean and organized! Now there are grubby handprints on the fridge handle and cups everywhere. Why do they use so many cups? Why is the fridge handle so sticky and gross when they are home?), it isn’t anxiety. No, that is a different thing. The molestation of your home is upsetting. It is. But, it’s temporary for the most part. You can sleep at night. You’re glad your kids are home, regardless.
No. What I am referring to isn’t really funny. It’s the dog whistle level of anxiety we people with kids in their late teens to early twenties experience day to day, whether they are home or not. In the media they talk a lot about the mental health issues kids are experiencing due to the Internet, gaming, and social media. Additionally, 24/7 news media telling us about the kid that was shot on a campus across the country, or OD’d on a recreational drug that was unknowingly laced with fentanyl a plane ride away, or a car accident that killed everyone, but in another state. We hear about all the local bad news there is all the time, from all over the world. And, there is always bad news to report. It wears on us and our kids.
There is no way we, as parents or mentors, can be a calming force for our young people (now I sound 1000), if we are clinging to the ceiling with anxiety, or drunk in a chair drowning it.
Being a kid 18-25 has always been dangerous. Kids that age are prone to take risks. They have friends that seem more open to “experimenting” which makes you nervous. There are health issues. You know people look at their phone when they drive. You know this generation seems to tailgate more, causing more accidents. You know there is a whole lot more competition for everything in this global economy. You know they need to do well to be well. You know. You know. You know.
Deep, Deep Breath.
There is no way we, as parents or mentors, can be a calming force for our young people (now I sound 1000), if we are clinging to the ceiling with anxiety, or drunk in a chair drowning it. One thing we can do is talk about it. I’d like to talk to parents or mentors on an ongoing basis, preferably in “Notes” or comments so that we can hear what others of us are experiencing.
For instance, I chatted with a friend recently and we were both talking one hundred miles an hour about our current parenting dilemmas and worries. Her oldest is a few years old than mine so she is my mentor. I would be lost without her. My youngest is a few years younger than her’s so I am her eager beaver support crew. I asked her to put into writing what she was feeling. I thought perhaps this is a useful exercise for all of us. What is it exactly that is worrying us?
See below what one parent in her 50s is thinking about parenting good, happy kids in their 20s and yet is in constant worry.
Parenting 20 year old's and our struggles: Learning to cut the emotional cord.
How do we disengage? There is a fine line between guiding our children and FINALLY cutting that cord. We have all been too involved in our children's lives and it's bringing us down.
How do we let them solve their own problems and let them flail and sometimes sink?
How do we realize that our children's shortcomings and struggles are not our own? (How do we take our own ego out of their failure?) It is actually wonderful role modeling for them to see that we actually have our lives and issues. Most of us grew up in an era where our parents were not involved in the way we are with our children. We just dealt with our issues, conflicts, hurdles etc...! My parents dropped me off at my university without me ever visiting (i didn't get into my first choice school.....) and I survived and actually thrived. One of my brothers did his college tours solo, he rented a car and traveled around the northeast visiting colleges and meeting with coaches and faculty.
We need to be aware when we are still over parenting our 20 year olds and let our children struggle. We have given them the tools, resources and all the advantages (and love) that many of us did not have access to...now it's their turn to take the ball and run with it. It actually is very empowering for them to finally come out the otherside, when they realize they overcame a "struggle" on their own.
Some themes...thoughts about cutting this emotional cord by a mom.
What do you think?
Why are we over-parenting our 20 somethings? Are we? Or, when do we stop?
Is it that families now are so uber connected because of phones? So, it’s like the ‘old country’ when we all virtually live in the same village?
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Please watch this video, or at least a little of it. I am super proud of the work Kathleen (who helps me from time to time) and I did here. AND, the info is amazing. In the Premium section is the list of products she recommends for not just aging skin but for teen-20 somethings too! And she answers another 3 questions that came from you, the readers.
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Fun thing to revisit: WSG 34, The original “crapping” of the house…
The reference to “the Crapping” of a house is from the essay above, WSG 34. Somehow the process of wreaking havoc on a house and bringing home scads of stuff from college and dumping it on the ground of your clean house by your offspring became known as “The Crapping.”