The Richmond Register

January 26, 2014

Road to independence not paved with pity

By Jennifer Napier
Register Columnist

RICHMOND — “Honey, please wash the dishes and vacuum the floor today while I’m at work,” a parent leaves on a note to their child before they leave in the morning. “P.S. Try not to call or text me at work unless it’s an emergency,” is added at the bottom.

Just after lunch, the parent’s phone vibrates. A text message has been received.

The parent glances at their phone and their curiosity gets the best of them. They know they are not allowed to use their cell phone while they are on the clock, but the blinking light on their phone has them distracted. They attempt to ignore it, but about 10 minutes later, their phone vibrates again.

The first message reads “We’re out of milk.” The second message reads “My cell phone bill was due yesterday. When can you pay it?”

While they are reading the second message, the phone rings. The parent glances at the phone screen. It is their child calling. The child is not respecting the parent’s note.

The parent shakes their head and thinks, “When is my child ever going to grow up and get a job?”

The parent is frustrated because the child doesn’t seem interested in getting a job to gain their independence. After work, the parent stops by the grocery store for milk, and the cell phone store to pay the child’s bill.

Upon arriving home, the parent observes that neither the dishes have been done, nor the floor vacuumed. “What am I going to do? I can’t keep this up forever,” the parent sighs.

This scenario would be realistic and understandable if the child were a teenager, but this scenario is describing the relationship between a parent and a grown adult child.

The child attempted to live on their own, but when faced with the hardships of adult life, such as a failed marriage, small children to support or raise and/or a job loss, the parent became the enabling crutch for the child to fall back on.

The grown child has now learned to rely on the parent for financial support as an adult, which is a growing trend in America.

The road to adulthood is not easy. There will be times of tragedy, pain and suffering, but it is in those difficult times that individuals learn the coping skills necessary to survive as an adult.

When parents soften the blows of reality to protect their adult children from experiencing true hardships in life, the adult children never learn why hard work, manual labor and the art of compromising with others are critical survival skills.

An individual must experience what life is like when there are no safety nets to fall back on, if they are to learn independence.

To pity a person is to enable them to live a life of excuses. To educate a person and then allow them to live by their own decisions is to teach them to build a valuable work ethic.