Mom, Stop Coddling Me and Let Me Grow!

We have discussions about the parent / adult “kid” relationship quite frequently here at GypsyNester.com, but it’s quite rare that we get to hear the young adult point of view on our site, other than a few cherished comments in our discussion section.

We don’t kid ourselves, we are aware that there aren’t a lot a twenty-something people who get up in the morning and think, hey, let’s see what the geezer set is up to this days. 

So we felt pretty good when we came across “The Drawbacks of Being A Boomerang Kid” at YPULSE. In this story a recent college graduate  affirms our position on adult offspring returning to the nest.

“Could it be that some … CONTINUE READING >> 

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We have discussions about the parent / adult “kid” relationship quite frequently here at GypsyNester.com, but it’s quite rare that we hear the young adult point of view on our site, other than a few cherished comments in our discussion section.

We don’t kid ourselves, we are aware that there aren’t  a lot a twenty-something people who get up in the morning and think, hey, let’s see what the geezer set is up to this days. 

So we felt pretty good when we came across “The Drawbacks of Being A Boomerang Kid” at YPULSE. In this story a recent college graduate, Casandra Liggin, affirms our position on adult offspring returning to the nest.

“Could it be that some parents may be doing their children a disservice by allowing them to wave their hands in defeat and retreat to the safety of home before giving it the old college try at adulthood?”

It certainly could! Ms. Liggin points out something we insisted our adult children learn before leaving home — work.

“Millennials are pained by the idea of settling for a less than ideal occupation rather than pursuing their passions. I think passions are wonderful, I truly do. But I also believe in working until one can draft the desired path to achieve their passion. Work experience of any kind is extremely valuable as it teaches you what you like and dislike in a job and how to communicate with diverse personalities… I would argue that one could learn more behind the counter of a Starbucks than sitting in front of a laptop sipping a caramel macchiato at their local coffee shop pondering their next professional move.”

Precisely! Ms. Liggin has noticed that many of her peers choose to play it safe by never really trying — our offspring have seen the same thing — and that often it’s the parents who are enabling this lack of effort.

“Maybe today’s parents are too quick to provide a soft landing for fear that their child will get bruised by life or dare I say it, rejected. From my experience, the sooner you experience disappointment, the quicker you learn to pick yourself back up, dust yourself off, and get back in the game.”

Obviously this is a lesson Ms. Liggin learned well,

“…resourcefulness is a skill I’m most proud of and wouldn’t have attained unless put in a sink or swim situation. Luckily, I’ve learned to swim many times over.”

We feel strongly that this sort of independence doesn’t just happen, it is a product of parenting, and Ms. Liggin sees that too.

“Sure, my parents would have let me come back home if I had experienced a major medical emergency, but anything short of that was pushing it. They had been prepping me for independence from the time I entered high school.”

This goes to show that strong parenting, even if it sometimes takes the form of helicopter parenting, can lead to happy, independent, self-sufficient young adults.

But as Susan Engel’s New York Times article “When They’re Grown, the Real Pain Begins” shows, sometimes letting go can be difficult. Especially when things get rough for your children.

“Last year, one of my sons went through a series of devastating setbacks. Almost everything bad that could happen to a young person happened to him. He had a catastrophic accident at work that permanently damaged one of his fingers. He will never use it again, though almost everything he loves to do requires the precise and flexible use of his hands. He endured a devastating break-up with a longtime girlfriend. And he got fired from a job he cared about, without any warning or rationale. He seemed just about as broken as a young man can be.”

Any parent is going to want to jump in at this point and Ms. Engel was certainly no exception.

“I wanted to be by his side constantly, I wanted to go out and hurt those who had hurt him, arrange new work for him…”

But her son understood that he needs to stand on his own two feet.

“‘Mom,’ he said, ‘when I tell you what’s wrong, I don’t want you to tell me how to fix it, and I don’t want you to tell me it’s not as bad as I think. I just want your sympathy.'”

That is one of the keys to creating a true adult-to-adult relationship with your adult children, love them, care about them, but allow them to solve their own problems.

A couple of the comments on Ms. Engle’s piece hit the nail on the head:

“As the mother of three and grandmother of six all I can offer is – keep your mouth shut and your arms open. If they want advice, they’ll ask for it.”

and

“There’s no magic to this. It’s the golden rule of parenting. Treat your kids the way you wanted to be treated when you were their age. When you were 28 did you want your Mom to fix everything for you?”

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

YOUR TURN: You’ve heard our thoughts, what are yours?



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10 thoughts on “Mom, Stop Coddling Me and Let Me Grow!”

  1. Love this article and the different perspectives. Who can turn away grown children in a financial or emotional crisis? But learning how to cheer from the sidelines instead of playing the game can be one of the hardest challenge with our boomerang kids.

  2. My eldest son (23) has moved out and back home 3 times so far. The first 2 were by my doing (he wasn’t abiding by basic house rules based on responsibility & respect) and the 3rd by his choice as he was ready. I permitted him to move home this last time because he was forced to move from shared accommodation, and with rental prices so high in Sydney he could not afford a place by himself.
    I have 2 20-somethings at home. They both work, pay their way and live their lives with little ‘hovering’ from me.
    I too have learned that my adult kids want to fight their own battles, make their own decisions & fix their own problems… And I also know that they will ask for my help if they need it. Just last week Mr23 was in a bit of a crisis and all he wanted from me was comfort.
    Young adults can still be resourceful, responsible & independent, even if they still live in the family home.

  3. Thinking about my youngest son’s attempt at returning home after his first few months of marriage. Things were going rough in his adjustment to married life and they were not getting on well. He poured his heart out and I listened. When done he asked if he could move back home for a short time while he sorted things out.” Sure, I said! You still have a house key don’t you? ” “Yeh, Dad, I have a key”. “Good! By the way, I changed the locks.” He stood there with a blank look for a few minutes and then it sank in. He went back to HIS home and sorted it out. 17 years later, he still thanks me.

  4. Our 20 something sons are proud of their independence. They know they have a safety net and won’t be left on the street starving and ill as long as we’re alive, but I feel that they’ll do anything they can to avoid being in that situation. Having said that, I don’t think we take credit for that. We did the best we could as parents, they did what they were supposed to (we’re not counting tattoos, right?) and the rest — is luck. I try not to “judge” other parents and families. Every person and every situation is different. There, but for the grace of God…..

  5. I think loving families assure one another “I’m not going to let you starve and die in a ditch,” but don’t make it TOO easy to wave hands in defeat and come home, either. I love my kids, but both of them know I want them to grow up strong and independent and able to handle life’s challenges. And I believe that they can. I’ve encouraged them to fight their own battles when they’re able and willing, and have done no more helicoptering than to proofread my daughter’s “personal essay” and pay her college application fees and tuition. She’ll graduate in the Spring, and she’s eager to find her wings and fly. Scared, but eager.

    Our kids know that if they move home, they get to do chores and have a curfew and our house rules – not theirs – even if they’re 47 when they do it. They’re welcome to visit any time, and I hope they won’t let US starve or die in a ditch when we’re old. But yeah – fly, little birdies, fly! (There’s a big difference, of course, between nudging them to USE their wings and shoving them out of the nest and into the cat’s mouth. 😉 My propeller may be broken, but I can still be a mama tiger and I’m always on their side, whether they realize it or not.)

    1. Totally agree. I think most every parent would come to the rescue if their child really needed it but it is important for them to think that is the last resort, not the easy way out.

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