If the giant shudder of NOPE that I had when reading about the 30 year old man whose parents had to evict him from their house was even remotely close to that of other moms, I know there is a nationwide renewal of the desire to raise adults who can live on their own when the time comes. Click-bait news articles with cringe-worthy man children notwithstanding, raising adults is our primary responsibility as parents. Our job is to teach our kids the art of being an adult (or at least doing a really good impression of one).
The key to doing this is to start teaching your children how to adult when they are not even close to being adults. But, how exactly do you do this? As with anything with kids, baby steps and small appreciable goals are the key to success. Remember, you are building an adult, not assembling one so you need to grow their skills as much as their minds and their bodies. Here are four tips on how to do that from the start:
Foster Independence at an Early Age
I remember how ecstatic I was when my oldest first learned how to hold his own bottle. His independence with the bottle was a win-win in my book since it meant me having a little more freedom, too. Of course, his attempt to begin to control a little part of his world came with some bumps and dropped bottles, but that is the learning process. So, when your child says, “I do it!” let them. Repress your urge to hurry them along because it will take them five minutes to figure out how to put on the shirt. Consider that five minutes an investment in their independence learning.
Assign Age-Appropriate Chores
I am not advocating child labor, but kids do come in awfully handy when they reach that age where they can start to help around the house. My son, it turns out, loves to vacuum. My daughter loves to fold laundry. The key to making these arrangements work, however, is that I also know that neither will do a particularly fantastic job and they will lose interest after a while. But, getting them involved in these chores now means they will be more likely to do them without a fuss later. In other words, it will become expected and ingrained in them just like taking their plate to the sink after dinner.
Talk up Adulting
If I had a dime for every time my kids said that they wanted to be a grown up, I would have an equal number of dimes for every time I tell them being grown up is not all it’s cracked up to be. This may not sound like talking up being an adult, but I think it is. It’s important to be realistic with them about what it means to be an adult. Sure you get to eat your dessert first if you want, but sometimes – well, often times – being an adult is boring with a capital B. So, whenever my son tells me that he’s bored, I tell him, it happens. Adults get bored just like kids. The question is: what are you going to do about it? Hint: don’t ask me.
Teach the Tools
This includes the mundane stuff like how to use the iron and run the dishwasher and start the washing machine. It also includes teaching them self-regulation of emotions, thinking about consequences of their actions, creating and following boundaries, and delayed gratification. Frankly, many adults still need these lessons, too.
We hear so much today about kids who are barely surviving outside of the home because they are ill equipped to handle being adults. This is totally preventable by focusing on raising adults who are independent and self-sufficient while those adults are still children.