Blackbird and Miz S have posts today (sort of) about kids leaving the nest. It seems so far away for us to even think about, but it's definitely a goal to aspire towards. (I know that sentence has funky structure. I am in too much of a hurry to fix it)
So many of my friends have children who have left for college already. Some of the parents are dancing in delight, some are dealing with empty-nest depression. I expected to hear these stories.
But the stories that are astonishing me are the more and more often told tales of children who return home after college and finding suitable employment; they simply cannot afford themselves! The ruse is "It's just for a coupla months until I pay off some bills... " But the bills remain unpaid, the spending continues and the return to Take Care Of Me behavior escalates.
I was slack-jawed in amazement when one of my friends confided to me that she is cooking, cleaning, running errands and doing laundry FOR her son again. HUH?! What do you mean - like he's a pre-teen?! And he bought a sports car! I asked her what she is going to do. Her reply? "What CAN I do?"
You can kick his butt out the door, Mom. You can give him a 2-week deadline and tell him you're changing the locks! Believe me, he'll figure it out. Fast.
Most of my contemporaries could not have fathomed going back to live with their parents. Some had to - abusive marriages, illness, etc. But for those of us with any other option, living again with the parents was tantamount to DEATH! You. Just. Did. Not. Consider. It. Tattoo "LOSER!" on your forehead and move back in? No Way, Never. You'd borrow money from a loan shark before you approached your parents house, suitcase in hand.
But today? It's common. No big deal. My friends figure "Hey, what the heck! We have this big house; we travel alot so it's great to have the house occupied in our absence; it won't be forever' etc etc. But once in, I've yet to see many of those kids ever leave. Oh wait; some leave - if the parents set them up in a house!
I was talking to a neighbor with teenagers about this today. We live in an affuent area. For homecoming this weekend, the 'normal' date was dinner at a high-end place like Benihana's or a steakhouse, then the party, then an after-party fee venue that was pretty expensive. These kids drive BMW's, $40k Mustangs, expensive SUVs and wear designer labels. They vacation in Europe, on cruises, and villas in Mexico. They live in houses with gourmet kitchens, media rooms, luxurious private baths and plenty of hired help. There are visiting pilates coaches, massage therapists, psychotherapists and tutors. I don't know if the children avail themselves of all the services, but there is a lifestyle expectation created by such a high level of personal service. Our local Starbucks has lines out the door of mostly high schoolers.
The children think this is 'normal' life. That everyone lives this way. Always. There is no 'working one's way up'.
So, what's the secret to raising children who can be successful leaving the nest? Living with little, being happy with the struggle? I truly believe our neighborhood is full of parents who are raising children with completely unrealistic expectations of Life. Who've never known the joy of working for something, earning something. And it's not just this 'hood. It's rife among my friends around the US -- everyone wants their kid to have every advantage. And no 'suffering' or hard times.
This is scary. The US is heading for Big Trouble if this is who's going to be at the reins one day.