, , , , , ,

Recently I had the experience of sitting with a 22-year-old gal as she filled out online job applications. Let’s just say, it became painfully obvious very quickly, this girl is in no way prepared for the world. Not even close.

I’ll spare the details to preserve the innocent but let’s just say if one thinks answering the question, “How long do you plan to stay in this job?” with “A. Less than three months” (even if true) is the “best” answer, one is missing something. Likewise filling out FOUR online job applications (and one’s top picks at that) with a cell phone number that is currently disabled because one didn’t pay it, as the primary contact, without realizing that is not a good plan until I pointed out the obvious, well… I was speechless.

Now I don’t know her well enough to know her whole story, but my guess is there is a big fail in there somewhere in the parenting of this young woman. My guess is the parent/s took the friend-rather-than-leader route, so popular today. She may mean well but she’s as clueless as a lamb to slaughter, wholly unprepared for the reality of life as an adult ahead. And with no safety net to fall back on, no kin themselves able to carry her for a bit more, this kid is really looking at a very tough and not fun future.

It’s all obviously her problem and responsibility to deal with now, but I would say it’s not totally her fault. Not that excuses will solve anything. It’s now time for this gal to focus on the solution, not the problem, or the source of these problems. After she overcomes them, maybe then she will have time for that. But first she’s got to grasp the problem, which her lax attitude did not seem to suggest.

All this brought to mind a quote I heard somewhere along the way, maybe in comments here, that kids have enough friends, what they need their mom and dad to do for them is to be their parents. Amen.

Not that I am a perfect parent myself by any means, but it was a reminder to me that I am my children’s guide, and while I am in the trenches day-to-day, my real job is to prepare them to launch into this world as a functional adult. And that the time to accomplish that in is limited, never to come again. While it seems far away now, it’s really right around the corner. If I fail them in this, I set them up for a lifetime of struggle, failure, and angst. And worse — dependance, victimization, and subsisting on the scraps of life.

A friend who is also a therapist once said to me, being a kid’s pal, giving in at the moment for peace and quiet, vs actually “parenting” them (with guidance, limits, rules, corrections, consequences, etc.) is the lazy way out. It’s selfish, and immature. It’s the strategy of a parent who refuses to grow up enough to BE a parent. Many times such a child has to do their best to parent themselves, and sadly also often parent their own parent at the same time.

I am not saying there is no hope ahead for this girl, but even in my infinite patience and innate desire to see the best in one, I was struggling to stay positive about her chances of a successful future. She has so much to learn, and the time to learn all that was long before now when she faces rent, bills she has no way to pay, and the very real possibility of being homeless if she doesn’t get a job, any job, in the next month.

When she was younger, lessons and consequences were smaller. The cost of failure, smaller to overcome. Now she’s near the end of the runway and there is yet no takeoff. Now what? I can only hope rubber grips road very, very soon and this failure to launch is somehow against all odds overcome.

In exasperation I finally said the obvious — “How about modeling?” The girl is very attractive, slim, six-feet-tall, and looks about 15. Naturally she said no, that would be “objectifying.” (“She’s got her looks and youth,” some may say. “Pair her off with someone to take care of her,” they may suggest? Too late. At the moment she is in a relationship with a gal even LESS capable than herself, if you can imagine that.  She’s somehow gotten herself into the position of being a sole breadwinner, minus the ability to bake.  A  Millennial experience? On the other hand, they may be able to move in with girlfriend’s mom so perhaps there is this??? Or wait, GF is less prepared, so this suggests even LESS parenting to be had at her place.)

At that point I decided for my own sanity to let it rest for the time being. Maybe after I regroup, I will give it another go. Maybe not. In the end, this is not my monkey, and this is not my circus. I can only do or give so much when I have my own battles to fight.

Teach your children well. If not, their future may well become a living hell.

What do you think? Please share in the comments.