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Independence natural step toward adulthood

POSTED: July 17, 2013 3:14 p.m.
 

We recently moved our oldest daughter into her first one-bedroom apartment in Nashville, Tenn. 

She has had several roommates over the past few years and was ready to do something she has always dreamed of — live alone.

Some of my friends were appalled that we so willingly allowed this, but I was just about her age when I moved into a one-bedroom apartment alone.

I have to say, it was one of the highpoints of my life at that time. I so remember that first night coming home late from work.

The apartment was immaculate, just as I’d left that morning. The only thing in the sink was my lone coffee mug.

There were no dirty pots and pans someone had left after making a big breakfast but not taking time to clean up.

No dirty, wet towels on the bathroom floor. No lights on in every room. The thermostat was untouched, exactly where I had left it.

When I looked in my refrigerator, nobody had eaten my yogurt and fruit. I could watch what I wanted to on television and read in peace and quiet if I preferred.

That night, and so many afterwards, I sat outside on my little deck and listened to music. It was heavenly.

I have so many fond memories of that tiny little apartment in Atlanta. At the time, it felt like life was complete.

There is something so magical about being a young person and finally achieving independence.

Nothing is so gratifying than supporting yourself and knowing you’re in control of your life and destiny.

Sure, I worked long hours, often on weekends. But that was what it took to be on my own, and I really don’t remember complaining.

Is it just me or is our culture failing to tell young people about this natural step in becoming a full-fledged adult?

I know so many people who have 25-year-old “children” living at home.

Our oldest son, who is 22 and has been living as an adult away from home for the last three years, told us he has friends as old as 30 who live in their parents’ basement!

What? That’s just insane.

In addition, that friend of his has a master’s degree and a real job. What am I missing here?

I had wonderful parents and I loved them dearly, but there was pretty much nothing I wanted more than to move out of their house. Because it was their house. I wanted my own place.

Like our daughter, I had to endure the “roommate years,” because I didn’t make enough money to afford my own place.

But you had better believe once I could afford it, I was out and loving it.

What is wrong with young people today that they don’t embrace their independence?

Well, let’s analyze this phenomenon. Could it be that my generation is enabling their children?

Could we be role modeling not taking responsibility for one’s actions and responsibilities?

Yep, I think I just nailed it.

Sadly, our culture is promoting an attitude of dependence more than anything else.

We tell our children to go to college, but not to worry about paying for it.

Many kids get degrees, but have no idea what they will use them for, and consequently end up working in coffee houses or waiting tables.

Those are fine jobs, but you probably don’t need a four-year degree in biology to hold one down.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for education. But let’s face it, college is not for everyone.

And even if your child does have a college education, but can’t find a job in his or her field, they should still be working. In fact, most young people should be working two jobs.

Working builds character. That’s something I worry our young people don’t seem to understand or aspire to have.

So many young people think as soon as they get out of school, their lifestyle is going to be that of their parents.

And some parents may think they want that for their children. But letting kids see how difficult it is to be on their own is the best way to let them grow up.

Isn’t that what your job as a parent is from the beginning? Helping shape a human being into being a productive member of society? Someone who will contribute to this world and one day leave their own legacy?

None of our children are perfect and our older two will surely make many mistakes as they forge their way forward in life.

In any event, we couldn’t be more proud of their hard work as they strive to make their way independently.

 

Adlen Robinson is author of “Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home.” E-mail her at contact@adlenrobinson.com.

 

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