One of the things people do not realize when they are young is that we are in a rush to grow – no one tells us what we lose. At random times, I begin to remember some of the things that I told myself when I was young: “when I’m an adult, I will buy whatever I want”, “when I’m a parent, I will let my kids do whatever they want” or “when I grow up, I’m going to live how I want to.” Looking back, don’t you wish it was that easy?
When you are young, you think about all the freedom you will have when you become an adult. I am in my early forties right now and I am still waiting for that freedom. Sure, I have the freedom to buy McDonalds whenever I choose to, have cake for breakfast or even buy Coke brands because my parents only bought whatever was on sale.
When you get to the point of buying anything you want, well, not so much. I mean, if you wish to look at it technically – yeah, I could buy whatever I want. The downside is that I probably wouldn’t be able to make rent, car payment, pay for heat or even buy food. Yet, technically, we can buy whatever it is that I want.
That kids one, I mentioned. Not that I can share from personal experience, but I know a few people that changed their tune. Some, they changed it too late. When you are a kid and do random things that eventually leads you into trouble, you think why is that a rule that I should get in trouble for. Later on in life, you look at some of those things and think about how much of an asshole you were when you were young.
Some of you are probably wondering what I meant when I said “changed too late.” Some people took that whole “giving their kid freedom too far” and those that realized that was a mistake came to the realization too late. Kids need boundaries. Kids don’t need friends. They need someone they can talk to sure, but they need someone to show them that there are rules and breaking such rules have consequences.
Living life how we want to is such a lofty goal when you think about it as an adult. It falls into the same fantasy as having a threesome. Neither of which will ever happen, but it is nice to fantasize about it from time to time. The more I think about the grind that my father went through day to day, I begin to wonder why he would stop drinking. Many times our lives don’t line up with our pocketbook. Seriously, our ATM machines shouldn’t laugh at us when we try to withdraw money for a night out.
Many times the unhappy adults download their issues, unhappiness and psychosis onto our offspring. That is unfair. Many of us were forced into lives that we didn’t choose due to the issue that prevented our parents from achieving their dreams. Not all of us but many of us. I didn’t suffer that issue from my parents but I know many that did. Unbeknownst to them, they are doing the same thing to their kids. A vicious circle.
The only reason that I can see for kids wanting to grow up too fast is because parents are forcing kids into scenarios that they don’t want to be in. I don’t want to give my kids the education I had, put my kids in sports because I didn’t get to be a famous ballplayer or I want my kids to act because I never got a chance to have that experience.
Yet, going the other way doesn’t work either. Giving your child complete control over their lives is not the best methodology. These are the same children that would have chocolate cake for breakfast, if they could. Children need guidance and life choice options. Although, if you push your kids into a pattern that averts failure (i.e. fighting their problems, paying their way), they will not know how to deal with failure when it happens. We all know that it will. Acceptance of responsibility is key. Yeah, they may have experienced issues that hindered them but it is our parent’s job to either own those issues or overcome it. Ignoring, demeaning or scoffing those issues don’t help and exacerbate the issue of them wanting to grow up so fast.
Some issues are economic, environmental or paternal but many of those issues can be overcome with love, understanding and conversation. Allow you kids room to grow but still retain some control. Allow them to explore who they are and adjust when it isn’t who you would WANT them to be. Remember, you are not their friend but you do not have to be a dictator either. It is a difficult high-wire to walk and mistakes will be many. Remember, kids will enjoy their lives more when you are not pushing your mistakes on them. Not to mention, you will save a lot in therapist bills in the future.