Leaving Without Regrets
Compared to what is expected of a parent from the moment of birth on, labor and delivery is the easy part. Here's a little insight for those of you who will be leaving home soon.
There is nothing more surreal than the weeks (months) of sleep deprivation and the circular cycle of feeding, burping and diaper changing. About the time that routine becomes comfortable, some new challenge arrives disrupting any sense of normalcy. Hyper-vigilance becomes second nature as the little combination Ponce de Leon/Houdini discovers every risky activity known to human kind. Next comes walking (falling), talking (incessantly) and independent activity (attitude).
The stakes get higher when school starts:
"What are they teaching my baby?
"Is it a safe environment?"
"What about friends?.. grades?.. behavior?"
In the easiest case scenario life becomes: Rise early, work hard, eat when you can, attend ball games, ballet lessons and band concerts, help with homework, make dinner, resolve conflicts, provide transportation, make appointments, do the housework, set an example, listen closely, worry too much, pray a lot, sleep a little, repeat daily for at least 18 years.
About the time parents are ready to collapse, say, 13 years into this project, they notice their once compliant child sometimes acts ungrateful, irresponsible, self-righteous or downright cranky. Embarrassed by her parents in public and insulted by the gallant efforts (advice, discipline, direction) to guide her into a well-adjusted adulthood, she becomes a master of eye-rolling, hair flinging, sarcasm or the silent treatment. She feels entitled to increasing levels of material support and decision making opportunities but does not always feel more obligated to hang up clothes, organize belongings or put the tortilla chips back in the pantry.
Despite the struggle, parents watch with hearts in throats as teens jaunt off into independence. They may actually prefer the tension in the home to the tension of the absence.
Mom and Dad have done their best to equip this young person to protect their lifetime investment, but there are no guarantees of a positive return, only a hope that wisdom will win the day. That's a harsh reality.
Here's how you can help:
1. Humble yourself to your parents. It is an appropriate, dignified response to their lifetime of sacrifice.
2. Speak respectfully, even when you disagree. A flying rage only makes people look crazy, not credible.
3. Acquiesce to their requests and follow their rules, even the ridiculous ones. Think of it as good
preparation for those exasperating professors or supervisors who could be slow to catch on to your work style.
4. Remember that you are still dependent. Your dreams are more reachable with parental support. Practice gratitude.
5. Approach your education whether in college, trade school or on-the-job training with a mindset of mastering what is being
taught, then share your accomplishments with your parents.