Stop this silly parental mollycoddling
PUBLISHED: 14:55 12 July 2018 | UPDATED: 14:55 12 July 2018
Sometimes I despair for the mistakes of my generation of parents.
Ten-year-olds growing up half a century ago had more nous and common sense than the hapless child-ults emerging clueless from today’s cosy cocoon of over-protective parents.
Fusspots, indulgent ‘helicopter’ parenting and mollycoddling mean some of the most highly-qualified young people of all time have no idea how real life works because they’re so used to their parents doing it all for them.
In the year when a record number of first-class degrees were handed out, the practical life skills of these high-flier graduates are shockingly lacking.
And their parents’ insistence to baby fully capable young adults are to blame for constantly thinking for them, bailing them out and doing for them what they should do for themselves.
They’re bringing up a generation that fizzes with self-belief and entitlement, convinced they deserve that “decent job in finance”, whatever that might mean, but have no idea that a vacuum cleaner needs to be plugged in to electricity, how to read a train timetable or speak to a stranger on the telephone.
Like open-mouthed baby birds in a nest, they look to their parents to sort their lives, from pairing their socks to booking travel tickets, providing cars and pandering to their every whim, just as they did with toddlers.
Embarrassingly, many of us don’t think twice before treating our child-ults like toddlers, wanting to ‘look after’ them for as long as we possibly can and protect them from the big bad world and the responsibility we had to take from our late teens.
But we’re doing the millennial generation no favours. The words rod and own back spring to mind as they happily nest back in the family home as grown up full-time workers, reverting to the role of spoiled child without hesitation, regret or even mild embarrassment.
This hit home as I helped load three years of my son’s accumulated student tat into my car as he moved out of his shared house. Eight young males vacating their party house hoping for returned deposits, in full, from the landlord.
Inside, a mother, wearing latex gloves, was scrubbing her son’s room in 26-degree heat while the rest of us were planning lunch.
What was she thinking? Her son was an adult, more than capable of cleaning up his own mess, but she was on her hands and knees disinfecting two years of mucky student living while her son was downstairs, feet up, with his mates watching the World Cup.
She cut a solitary figure as us refusnik mothers handed our sons bottles of bleach and scourers and left them to it. My son knew better than to even throw me a pleading look for help. Not on your nelly. Your mess, your job, matey. It’s called responsibility.
We can blame the housing market, the government, job market, general parental worry all we like, making young adults dependent and doing everything for them turns them into Wet Walters and us into mega-mugs.
Sports coaching and private tutoring is all well and good, but the following life skills are worth more to their future growth and success. They must...
1 Make and change their own bed. A grown man clueless about his own duvet cover is a shocker.
2 Read bus and train timetables and plan their own trips. Travelling independently should be a cinch by 16.
3 Do their washing and ironing.
4 Make their own doctor and dentist appointments. It’s incredible how many young adults are terrified of simple phone calls.
5 Master a repertoire of simple meals and be part of a family cooking rota.
6 Clean the bathroom and keeping their own bedroom tidy.
7 Bleed a radiator –a winter away from home in a student house can be hypothermic with a broken radiator.
8 Now how to use a lawnmower and basic gardening skills.
9 Work out a monthly budget.
10 Master basic decorating skills and the difference between emulsion and gloss.
Finally, and this is a contentious but vital parenting responsibility, charge any working adult child ‘keep.’ Everyone needs to learn there’s no such thing as a free dinner. The fridge doesn’t miraculously fill itself and the water gets hot.
It might not be about needing more money in the family pot, but it’s about teaching the value of money, how to plan their spending and how much it really costs to run a house.
Some parents put ‘keep’ money in an account to help with a child’s house deposit while they learn what ‘disposable income’ really means.
Every one of the above might not be achieved without a fight, or at least hefty encouragement and negotiation, but a teenager’s transition from child to young adult will be so much easier and character-building than any number of qualifications.