This week’s letter is from a young adult who was not happy with some of my parenting advice from last week’s #ChooseLove Broadcast.
Already an Adult, writes:
My mom made me listen to your podcast last week and then she said it was time for me to grow up. I got real angry because why should things change when I’m trying to finish school and I can’t do everything. She said things don’t have to change and I don’t understand what she wants. How do I become this adult you talk about, but still get help from my mom to finish school? I can’t finish school without her help, but I also think I’m an adult because I’m working hard and when I get out of school I’ll be taking care of myself.
Dear Already an Adult,
So, listen. The first thing I need to say is that getting some help from your parents while in college – especially financially – is not what I was talking about. If the only help you get from your mom is a bit of financial assistance (and I hope you are also working part time during the week to help yourself), then my broadcast wasn’t specifically about you.
But, if you aren’t working a job at all and if your mom is supplementing your social life along with all your basic needs, then that is a problem. Adults only ask for help with things they cannot help themselves with. That’s self-responsibility 101. Never do for others that which they could and should be doing for themselves.
Financial assistance aside – are you responsible for yourself in other ways? Can you make your own doctor appointments? Can you go pick up cold medicine for yourself? Can you get the oil changed in your car by yourself? Do you do your own grocery shopping? Can you budget the money you get from your mom or from working? Do you get yourself up in the morning? Do you wash your own clothes?
These things all require you to be able to make good decisions and have the confidence to make them.
How does one learn to make good decisions with confidence? You need to make a lot of decisions on your own and learn the lessons from the ones that turn out to be not so good. Learning the lessons means you don’t repeat bad decisions.
The way you learn the lessons of your bad choices is by being responsible for them. That means no excuses. That means owning your behavior. That means mom doesn’t “bail you out.”
Example: Let’s say you spend your grocery money on a weekend out with friends. You now have no money for food for the week. Don’t even think about asking mom to bring you some groceries or give you more money. That’s not what an adult does. You need to find a way to feed yourself even if it means selling something you like to make some quick cash. I can guarantee you that spending your grocery money in other ways will not be a choice you make again. It’s a great lesson to learn and you can only learn it by being responsible for your choices. So, learn the lesson – forgive yourself – and move on making a better choice with confidence next time.
Only in having the freedom to make mistakes can you become confident in making better decisions for yourself. Only in self-responsibility will you learn and grow.
The other thing I talked about that you need to become an adult is that you must learn that you are not the center of the universe. The world does not revolve around you. I know that is hard to hear because up until this point you have probably been the center of your mom’s universe. Not being her priority, her main focus, or her entire life, does not mean she loves you less. It means she loves you as a self-sufficient, free-thinking, competent adult.
You want that. You want to be all those things. You want to operate with the wisdom that no one owes you anything and also that you have the free-will to make your way in life in the manner you choose. You want to be the person in control of your life.
If you are dependent on someone else to fill your emotional, mental, physical needs (food, clothing, shelter), then you are not free. You are dependent on being the center of someone else’s life, instead of the being the center of your own.
You want to be free. Because love should feel free. Your mom’s love for you isn’t conditional on her control over your life. Your love for your mom isn’t conditional on you needing her. Free-will allows you to respect yourself and gives you confidence to soar high to reach your dreams. And, it allows your mom to soar in the next stage of her life with the freedom to pursue her own dreams.
To recap, these are the three markers we reach when we go from being a child to becoming an adult:
- Physical growth in to an adult body.
- Mental growth in to self-responsibility and making confident decisions.
- Emotional & Spiritual growth of being independent with respect for free-will of self and others.
So, here is the thing – your mom can help you as you finish school. No worries! But, take some of that responsibility on yourself as much as you can. Do not allow her to do for you what you can do for yourself. And show her a ton of gratitude and love for everything she does for you – not because you have to, but because you want her to feel loved and appreciated and joyful.
Good luck finishing school!