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Just a grown up child…

In the UK, you become an adult at 18 years old, it is even younger in other countries.  Who decided that, and when?  I’ll tell you, adulthood was reduced from 21yrs in 1971.  So let us just think about 21yr olds in 1971…..

Most would have been working full time for maybe 5 years already, or finishing off university.  Many would be engaged to be married, possibly already parents, and there would be a maturity that comes with helping to support your family as soon as you leave school and ‘mucking in’ with running and financially supporting the household.  I can see why they would have thought the legal age should be reduced to 18, makes perfect sense.

Let us now think of 18yr olds today. I’ll warn you I’m generalising here…..

Most have never worked a single shift in their life, mainly due to the fact you cannot legally be employed for many hours until you are 16 (but they could work). After 16 they are not allowed to leave education so continue on the “not working” trajectory for another two years.

Many are fairly inept at having an awkward conversation with a human as they are so confident that “texting” declines, cancellations or bad news is an acceptable method of communicating. Try asking them to actually use a phone to speak to someone….funny!

I would hazard a guess that very few contribute to the household chores let alone finances, how could they, they don’t earn? One 18 yr old I know was told by his mother not to worry about paying rent until he was earning £12k per year, how nice!  I have friends on little more than that, who manage to pay their own mortgage, food, insurance, and all their grown up living expenses.

‘Generation Z’, the ‘Millennials’ are being raised by very different parents, than in the past….Generation X. Gen X are fiercely independent, having been raised in the 60s, 70s and 80s and so predominantly grew up quicker than previous generations.  Most of their mums may have worked but would not have been the breadwinners, (housekeeping money). University was more accessible to the Xs and part time work, was a must if you wanted to buy clothes, shoes, a car, petrol or even a drink. They didn’t have mobile phones so still had to develop communication skills and kids tv was non-existent but for an hour or two a day. God remember the monotony of a Sunday!!!

This forced maturity has made Gen X, strong minded, independent and successful in achievements but has also encouraged a deeper need for a quality, work life balance.

Take modern working mums for example. Most women I meet these days work at least part time, if not full time, and some like me run small (or even large) businesses on the side. Many of us are breadwinners and most if not all are in a position where our income is critical to the financial stability of the family. That cannot be said of all our mothers.

However, I feel that maybe because of this absence from daily full time parenting, we allow our children to be children for longer…. and I don’t mean in the playing with toys sense.

I’m not suggesting we pack them off to earn their keep at 14, but learning to contribute should not make us feel guilty.

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It starts young with little chores; clearing the table, sorting the laundry, tidying up etc. As they get older, washing the car, mowing the lawn, popping out to get milk….ah now we get stuck…

Many households these days, for convenience, have their car washed, have someone to mow the lawn and have their shopping delivered… When you can have your whole lawn mowed for £15 and you spend £10 on a nice gin and tonic, it seems a no brainier. But this, I promise you is not helping our children.

Birthdays too!  Crikey my 9 year old collected £265 from various family and friends this last birthday (thank you btw).  However, that works out at over £5 per week pocket money.  He would have a mountain of chores to do to earn that… but now he doesn’t need to. To be fair he’s not materialistic so doesn’t want for anything, but that doesn’t help either, now I cannot think of a single reward to entice him.

I know some parents give pocket money as reward for doing homework, reading or making beds, but these are essentials in a child’s life not optionals.  If like my son, they have £265 in their wallet and don’t feel like earning any more, doing their reading or homework would be the first money earner dropped!

I also think that as we all have such crazy, full on lives that when we do spend time with our children we want all of us to enjoy it, so we ‘spend’ sufficiently to have a quality event that we will all appreciate.

My stepson finally realised this this year, when his 18th birthday money was spent on a boy’s trip to Malia.  When he acknowledged that his hotel room was one and the same as in the Inbetweeners movie, he understood that to date, he had been a very lucky boy.  Suddenly he appreciated the efforts awarded to him with our annual two weeks in Mallorca.  2018 is going to be the first time we are not flying him out with us. He now has a job and doesn’t know if he’ll get time off…. I’d put money on it that he does and we fund the last minute ticket.

I’m not knocking the children at all. It is not them it is us. I’m at fault, buying the 6 yr old a Boss Hoodie ffs!! (He does love it though!!).  How many children have that gift that keeps on giving?  You know the one, the mobile phone, that you are still paying for monthly, 8 years later….

So unless you have the next Akiane Kramarik (Wikipedia Akiane Kramarik) on your hands (I don’t) let’s be a little less accommodating and a little less supportive of their every desire.  I have friends whose daughters have a different activity club every night and even more at the weekends; ballet, band, brownies, cubs, gymnastics & drama – really…?  Where are the grown ups lives?

We feel guilty for our pace of life, for the absence at homework time, for breakfast and after school clubs and missing yet another year 1 assembly.  We feel selfish for wanting down time or gym time when we do get five minutes free (it could happen), then when irritated at the youngest leaving his clothes on the floor we explode like a massive great angry bird! BOOM….!! ….and then we pick up their clothes!  Parent nil child 1…..

We let them get away with it, however much we try not to, because if it isn’t guilt, it is exhaustion!  Again its not their fault, human nature is to take full advantage of your situation, I and you would do the same.

So parents… I ask you, with xmas around the corner, let’s keep it rational. Don’t let guilt fill Santa’s sack, don’t clear the table yourself. Teach them how to change the bedding for your houseguests, unload the dishwasher, clear up after themselves.  Make them remember their own gloves and coats, and if you’re feeling really selfish, maybe even teach them how to make a nice G&T…

You want help, you want consideration, you want to bond – they want to help, we have simply forgotten or stopped asking them….So boys, this week we will mostly be learning to put clothes away, sort laundry and maybe even a little ironing… you’ll feel an enormous sense of satisfaction!

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