Parenting, when does it end?
As most parents know, there is no magic age that your parenting duties are over. Some of you may have sons at home that are now adults, maybe even well over the age of 18. So, what is the next step to get him out on his own? Let’s be clear, this is not about “kicking your son out of the house” into a scary world without preparation. It is exactly the opposite-it is responsible parenting, preparing him to be a responsible, independent and healthy adult.
Too many times these days I’m hearing from parents that their son has no motivation or goal; my first response is does he have an “exit plan?”
Here Are The 3 Steps
- What is the best time to start the process of exit for your son? The best “exit plan” begins at birth; yes I did say at birth! Think of it like this, when you go to a hospital they start what’s called “intake,” while at the same time they are beginning to work on your “discharge” paperwork. It is a continuous process through the life of your son and takes on a much higher level of importance when he starts high school. Never forget that all lessons learned are preparing your son to be able one day to take care of himself. Why wait, start the process early.
- What is the “exit plan” for your son? Have you talked about what he wants/intends to do when he graduates high school, trade school or completes his GED? Will he go on to college, join the military or enter the workforce. If your answer is he doesn’t have “a plan” that’s not acceptable!
- What do I say, how do I say it? Communication is imperative as it relates to independence and leaving “the nest.” The conversation should be an upbeat, exciting time in his life. Talk about what he needs from you as he works through this process, here are the basics:
- Goal setting!
- Block-what’s in the way of his goals?
- Tools-what’s needed to reach his goals?
- No disruptions/one to one-sync your schedules over dinner, ice cream, coffee, soda or pizza; plan to meet weekly/bi-weekly or monthly. Schedule time and be consistent!
- Demonstration of ongoing support without needing each other-that’s the ultimate outcome.
Be prepared to “nudge” him along, he will need that from you. Let him know you have his back and you have confidence in him. This framework will give him vision + action = mission and provides a path to follow towards his exit.
It’s This or That
I’ve written about the epidemic of 26 year olds living at home in the basement playing video games and/or smoking pot. I didn’t make it up; it’s real and it’s disturbing. Why in the world does this happen you ask. Because parents must lay the groundwork and foundation with their son’s and develop the “exit plan” before it’s too late! You don’t have a child so that they can be dependent on you for life-do you?! Raise them to be healthy, happy and independent adults; to be productive citizens and make their life better.
If you happen to be reading this and you’re one of those parents that missed these steps; it’s time to get your son up out of the basement and follow the steps above. It’s not too late although it will be more challenging.
I Can Take Care of My Son
I know many moms out there who don’t like the thought of starting an exit plan, but would rather take care of their kids forever. Let’s be realistic and understand that is becoming a real possibility these days and it’s a disservice to your son (it deters him from becoming a whole person). An “exit plan” makes it safe for your son to grow up knowing he has the support of a significant caregiver-YOU!
I’d like your comments, even if it’s to tell me how difficult this is. Feel free to share your comments and/or questions at my Facebook page.