I see a lot of parents and adults in general ‘fast-tracking’ their teenagers into the world of adulthood: you must finish school get a job, have a career, be responsible, reliable and not waste time! Throwing them into the fast paced, relentless rodent wheel that is being a ‘grown up’. Well this mid-forties mum says to her almost adult teens – fuck that, guys! Take your sweet time before jumping into the drudgery of being a grown up. There is no way I want to push them out the door.
There is this notion I get from society that I should be pushing my now 20, 18 and 16 year olds into the world of adulting by insisting they par-take in all types of grown-up responsibilities. I read things that say that I should be not pandering to the needs and wants of my ‘almost adults’. That I should be making them do their own washing, shopping, cooking, cleaning, earning their living. To ensure they can survive as grown-ups (by forcing them to be grown-ups?). I should be making them do all of those sorts of things instead of encouraging them to enjoy the freedom to do things, go places, learn things, and generally not be ‘obligated’.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating that my teens should not posses the skills such as the above mentioned. I have been teaching my kids these essential things since they were very young in fact. Each knows how to cook, clean, wash clothes, food shop, care for pets and so forth. They can look after themselves and each-other, and have done on many an occasion! But what I am objecting to is the push for them to be having to do these things, at least for now. As they approach the age of retiring their school bags, I do not see the need to be immediately shoving into their hands the briefcase or tool belt of adulthood.
I am not one of those mothers who run around wiping the snot off their kid’s faces, or the passive mother who bows to the every whim of her young. I am certainly not implying that I am a slave to my kids. Far from it, and anyone who knows me, knows very well that I do not suffer the ‘doormat’ syndrome (when you are treated no better than a doormat). But what I do object to is the notion that my kids should leap into the world of grown-ups straight away. They have a literal lifetime ahead of them to worry and fulfil obligations, responsibilities, and so forth. Why not give them some space, some freedom, between now and then?
Right now I want them to enjoy these fleeting years of freedom from full responsibility. I want them to feel that it is ok to slowly immerse themselves in adulting but that they can still bounce back to being nurtured if things become overwhelming. I want them to be able to know they can still come home to clean clothes, a cooked meal and if they need a little financial bail-out (as long as it is not actual bail) that they can feel secure in knowing we are there for them.
It will not be long before their own sense independence will kick in, as it does with all of us due to circumstance and/or maturity. Then, they too will spend their lifetimes being lead by work, responsibility and all those other grown up things. But for now I am happy to support them in living life, loving life and experiencing life. They can put down their school bag and pick up a backpack for a while, before needing to reach for a briefcase. I believe they will be better grown-ups for it. Allowing them some extended nurturing as fledgling adults will, in my mind, see better adults inhabiting this earth in the future.