Yesterday, I was watching a rerun of a “Dr. Phil” show about Helicopter Parenting, and he mentioned Retread Kids – the ones that go away to college and then move back home. I like the description. It reminded me of the scene in the fabulous movie “In and Out” with Kevin Kline. The principal (played by that genius of the deadpan line delivery, Bob Newhart) tells the assembly that the school motto is something like “Live, Grow, Leave” – only he says it in Latin. Sounds more majestic that way.
I can’t remember Latin. I can’t remember what earrings I wore yesterday. But I remember wanting to instantly order a plaque, or a needlepoint pillow or something with that motto. (I hope I got it right – Live, Grow, Leave…)
Thinking about the concept of Retread Kids and graduations naturally brought me to that idea, with my own spin: Live, Learn, Leave. That is what we parents supposedly want for our kids. It’s what my husband and I wanted for our kids. We weren’t shy about it, either. No mixed messages during our kitchen table summits. We believed then, and believe now, that the greatest gift we as parents can give our children is the ability to move out and live successfully on their own. We even had our own way of discouraging them from thinking about moving back in – I will spare you the details, but it included threatening to use the kitchen counter in a very creative manner. Use your imagination…
Graduation is supposed to be a milestone. A stepping stone. Not a kidney stone. The problem is that, in these troubled times; it’s pretty tough for most young adults to afford it. And that is a shame!
What incentive do our kids have to live and learn if they can’t afford to leave when they graduate? Burdened with hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loan debt, fighting with hundreds of other applicants for a single job, having to pass credit checks and reference checks to live in the smallest of apartments – it sounds like a mountain too high to climb. What can we do, as the ‘older’ generation, to help make this process easier for them? Not to mention, give ourselves the space to let our own freak flags fly…
Preparing your children to be successful, productive adults is the gift that keeps on giving. They feel proud of their accomplishments. They become tax paying, rent paying, functioning members of society. Landlords can pay their mortgages. Laundromats need more washing machines. People in the Heartland build them. The great wheel of life rolls on. You don’t have to hear them come stumbling in at 3AM, and then hear their alarm clocks screaming in the morning. You don’t have to ask them to move their car in the driveway. You don’t have to pay their car insurance. You can all be all that you can be without stepping on each other’s toes.
But the best part – the really best part – is that they are glad to see you when they do come home.
Sandi Tuttle is the host of the Blog Talk Radio show “An Average Woman in a Superwoman World” (http://www.blogtalkradio.com/sandi-tuttle).