How to have adults

IMG-20130601-00423I am thinking about offering a new course entitled “How to Have Adults”. It would be a prerequisite for all parents and grandparents of teenagers.

Think about it – there is information everywhere regarding how to have and raise children, but where is the information on how to raise responsible adults and maintain lifelong relationships with these people?

Absurd you say? I’m not so sure. The more I live, the more it seems to me that the way we interact with our peers is some sort of ever evolving wrestling match in which we roll and play (and occasionally would each other); the moves become more complex as we age, but the rules of engagement remain pretty much the same. We are all pretty much on equal footing – some of us are bigger and stronger than others; some of us cry easily; some of play rough; and some of us would rather just sit on the sidelines and enjoy the show. We all intuitively know these things and put them into practise like changing lanes on the express way, standing in line at airport security, hunting for a parking spot at the mall on a Saturday morning and everywhere in between.

But what do we do when it comes to our children and grandchildren?

More times than not, we bully and judge the very people we “ought” to be nurturing, guiding and encouraging. We chastise them for making decisions we don’t agree with – their hair, their friends, their clothes; never considering that taking steps at self-expression is how they begin to develop a sense of self.

And then we make it personal. We destroy their self-confidence before it is properly formed by telling them how disappointed “we” are that they did this or that. We belittle them for their mistakes with a confident air of “I told you so”. We tell them their actions are unforgivable and we get bitter when they don’t visit us.

But is this fair? If we don’t show them forgiveness and respect then who will? Who will their role models become?

If we don’t allow them to make mistakes and learn from these experiences, then who will?

If we selfishly take no interest in what is going on in their lives, yet judge their behavior when they act out, how can we ever expect to be listened to?

In today’s fast paced world of social media, video games and iPads there is less and less interaction between the generations. We had elders to turn to and guide us, but we seem to have lost the ability to talk to this new generation who live lives with plugs in their ears. Something needs to change but it will have to start with us – the youngsters know no other way to exist.

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