There are several movies over the past few years that have been quite entertaining about young adults not being ready for what is called “the start up” years. They usually provide all kinds of situations where the kids live at home, have either no motivation towards working or can’t keep a job and have a group of other friends that are in similar situations that they hang out with. They justify their lives with playing games, sleeping all day when the world is normally functioning and leaning heavily on their parents for housing, food and fun money. All the while the parents have no idea what to do. We all know this situation either because it is our own or because we know people in it.
According to Mel Levine, M.D. founder of ALL KINDS OF MINDS INSTITUTE the start up years are roughly from 16 to 29. This is the time that young people whether educated or not need to understand how to negotiate those first few years on the job and all the relational issues that present themselves. However many young adults are struggling with this period in a larger way and these struggles include not being able to perform well on the job or unprepared for the demands of a schedule and the spoken and unspoken rules of the work environment partly because they spent most of their lives being able to do what they wanted when they wanted to and how they want to without any consequences. The consequences that happen on the job are huge. Many young people are fired, become known as a liability or cannot get along with co-workers.
Right now our culture supports attitudes that require instant gratification with immediate rewards instead of patiently working on a project or waiting for an extended period of time for something desired. For example this weekend I was dropping my son off at the airport and discovered that the flight was cancelled. There were people calmly waiting for their turn to reschedule a new flight and there were an array of people that were loudly having tantrums. Did they get better treatment? I would summate that they didn’t, however more importantly they disrupted the airport with their perceived ideas of entitlement all the while their children were either observing or participating in their own display of perceive entitlement with whining, throwing themselves on the ground or name calling the parents.
Where this attitude comes from is directly related to how parents handle the everyday task of parenting. This is not nature my friends, this is nurture. There is no argument here. How you treat your kids impacts how your kids are able to handle the transition into young adulthood. These kids, rich or poor, from two parent families or one parent end up not being ready or productive in the “start up” years.
We have the kids that are idolized, believed to be fragile or allowed to rule their families. It is important for parents to evaluate if they are creating these circumstances for their children. That is the beginning of helping their child become productive work ready adults. Overcome your fear of being disliked or the tantrums that your child will throw by setting limits and sticking to them. Choose consequences that can be followed up with, not unrealist ones because it is not in the best interest of children to be given the power especially teenagers because your afraid that they will hurt themselves or become angry. Self monitoring feelings and tantrums should be well on their way at five years of age and are completely unacceptable in the work environment. Kids know their parents care when parents set limits and will describe parents that do not set limits in their lives as uncaring.
A large part of life, starting as a young child should includes frustration, conflict and loss. It is important to allow these experiences to emerge and take a sideline position. By that I mean help by hearing your children but letting them figure out the resolution or offering advice when asked however not taking the action to correct the situation. Allow your children to work on strategies themselves and be the guide not the savior because relational issues come up in the adult world and kids need the experience and understanding of how to solve them.
Finally use caution in providing material possessions and idol status. Childhood should include winning and losing. There will be authority figures like teachers, bosses, advisors etc in their lives who will praise them as well as criticize them. Every act of accomplishment will not get a trophy or even acknowledged. Help your children who will eventually be young adults understand that in life no one is without good times and bad times.
Rebecca M. Carroll-The Coaching Educator found at www.thecoachingeducator.com