Friends, these tween years are hard.
WHY DIDN’T ANYBODY TELL ME?
As I navigate these years with Pookah, I find myself simultaneously wanting to throttle him and being so proud of how he is growing up.
I have never been a helicopter parent, because how can a child learn if you are always doing for them? But I have “helped”.
But earlier this year, I realized that I only have 5 more years to prepare him.
Five years to help him become independent of me.
Five more years to make sure he can do things like wash his own clothes, cook his own food, clean a bathroom, managing his time and how to balance a checkbook( yes, that’s still an important skill) .
I want him to be a good person, but I also want him to be a functioning adult, thriving and living his best life WITHOUT ME.
“Being an adult, it turns out, is not about any particular checklist; it is, instead, a process, one you
can get progressively better at over time?becoming more comfortable with uncertainty and
gaining the knowhow to keep going. Once you begin to practice it, being an adult becomes the
most complicated yet also the most abundantly rewarding and natural thing.”
I was always an independent child. And so were both of my brothers. My parents never had any problems with us..fleeing the nest you might say and making our own way.
I have often heard people ask my mother: what did you do?
She can never put it completly into words, but when I read Your Turn, How to be an Adult by Jamie-Lynthcott-Haims, her 9 Basics of Fending was a light bulb for me.
It’s what my parents taught us without being helicopter parents, and without just thrusting us into adulthood with no preparation.
Fending is basically how to take care of yourself without anyone’s help. Fending means being responsible and accountable. It’s one of our jobs as parents: to make sure our children enter adulthood knowing 9 basic things.
The Nine Basics of Fending
- Attend to the care and maintenance of your body
This includes personal hygiene, how to buy and cook food, making dr’s appointments, renting or buying a home. These are basic things to take care of yourself.
2. Find work that pays the bills.
Pookah likes nice things. Like expensive tennis shoes and filet mignons( no t-bone). While my bragging parent self would love if he became a Doctor, Entrepreneur or President of the United States, I’m really just trying to raise him to be able to afford the things that he likes and pay his bills. Without help from me.
3. Try Hard.
The real world requires your hard work and your effort. It’s ok to screw up, but it’s important to learn to get back up and try again.
4. Make Your Own Decisions
Be able to handle everyday questions. Learn to get advice and guidance when you are considering the big stuff.
5. Get Along With Others
Be able to interact with other people in a courteous and respectful way while STILL advocating for what you need.
6. Keep Track of Your Stuff
LISTEN. I feel like this is the hardest lesson! From coats to bags to cellphones, school deadlines and obligations: keep track of it all.
7. Reply and show up
Whether it’s work, school or your personal life, requests for your time deserve a response. Even a maybe is better than silence. And once you have said yes: SHOW UP or at least cancel in advance.
8. Find your people and care for them.
When you find your tribe( the group of people that matter to you) set aside time and take an interest in what they need in order to feel safe and whole
9. Plan for your future
Save for your future, like contributing to a 401(k) and other investment accounts.
But all of this doesn’t mean I am going to abandon him the moment he turns 18!
It just means that I want to make sure that I’m preparing him for a life where he can thrive on his own. I want the conversations we have on the way to school and around the dinner table to let him know that he is unconditionally loved and rooted for no matter what kind of grades he gets, what school he does or doesn’t get into, what type of work he decides to do or who he loves.
I love that these summits this year with Responsibility.org have gone beyond teaching children and their families the importance of normalizing conversations about underage drinking and development. They have helped us explore what it really means to parents. This one reminded me that it is important to honor our kids where they are, and to not place pressure on them to even if they aren’t getting straight A or excelling in sports or getting into top colleges. We have got to honor our kids for who they really are, not who we or society wants them to be.
I think that that and preparing them to be adults in the real world is one of the best ways we can parent.
What do you think? How are you raising your kids to be responsible?