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Ten Things To Consider As You Attain Adulthood -

A Parent's Reality Check for the "Adult" Adolescent

    Does your older adolescent challenge your parental efforts on the basis of their perceived emergence into adulthood?  Here's some loving feedback to share with the one who has "arrived."

    Dear (insert name),

    More than you realize, we support your genuine efforts to function as an adult.  To that end, the following is offered in loving support of your efforts.  This is a self-test. Nobody has to know your reaction. How will you know that you passed the test? An adult will be able to read this through completely and consider it thoughtfully.

    1)     We have every right to be concerned about how you are handling your life.  Adults are recognized not by their age, but by their behavior - including the decisions they make.  We understand you will not begin to understand how much of our hearts and souls we have put into loving and raising you until you have a child of your own - but as long as WE have to share in the consequences of your decisions, we have the right to have input to your life. Rebellion against this obvious fact is childish.

     2)     Until you are completely independent, requiring no resources from us in terms of our finances, time, housing, food, or support in response to the consequences of your decisions, we reserve the right as to how we delegate OUR resources for your benefit - even if it means withholding them.  Rebellion against this obvious fact is childish.

    3)     As you emerge into adulthood in the expected process of acquiring true independence, you have less and less right to our resources - particularly if you don’t handle them responsibly.  Being long-term adults, we - not you - get to decide on what defines “responsible” handling of resources.  Rebellion against this obvious fact is childish.

     4)     Adults manage resources responsibly. Responsible handling of resources includes: appropriate conservation, in keeping with financial limitations and resource limitations; use of delayed gratification, as required, to increase resources for times of increased need; protection of resources, so they will be there in the future; respectful behavior for the source of the resources to increase the likelihood of resource availability.  In terms of some examples, this translates as: Don’t run up the phone bill to where you can’t pay for it; don’t party-out your job-money, then ask us to pay for textbooks; don’t trash the car, if you expect to drive it again; don’t trash your parents’ efforts on your behalf and expect wallet and purse to open upon demand. Rebellion against this obvious fact is childish.

     5)     Adults actively work toward acquiring increased independence, as well as increased interdependence.  They become less and less reliant on others to meet their needs while striving to become increasingly of service to the human community and the world-at-large.  They also appreciate and accept their present limitations and needs, gracefully accepting and appreciating the services of others.  Any community - whether it be family or nation - can only endure if managed by adults.  True community building can only come by adults partnering with adults.  Rebellion against this obvious fact is childish.

    6)     Adults accept responsibility for their behavior - and the consequences of that behavior.  Only the immature expect others to take on the responsibility and consequences for their immature behavior.  Like everybody else, adults sometimes are victims: they have to face the consequences of other’s behaviors - but they do not give up on their responsibility to recover from their victim experience, as they recognize they have no other responsible choice than recovery - whatever it takes. To that end, adults are honest and up-front, rather than lying and manipulative; trustworthy in their intentions; and exhibit responsible risk-taking behavior in their expression of the vulnerability that builds true intimacy and community. Rebellion against this obvious fact is childish.

    7)     Adults recognize that experience comes with age, and - with effort and learning - wisdom comes with experience.  Adults, not the immature, can be expected to recognize wisdom.  Teachers generally have more experience than their students; parents than their children.  The experienced, whether by instruction or example, have more to share. Rebellion against this obvious fact is childish.

     8)     Adults can discern themselves from others and the world around them, including the rights inherent in existence.  Thus, being able to recognize boundaries, they only cross them appropriately - and they protect their boundaries from violation by others.  This is the basis of all politeness and courtesy - and it breaks the immature illusion of self-entitlement, whether expressed through stealing the right-of-way or through over-charging for services. As such, adults value themselves enough not to give themselves up in order to fit in with less-mature others.  They recognize that self-sacrifice for mere acceptance by others is immature - especially when it brings harm.  Rebellion against this obvious fact is childish.

    9)     Adults are open-minded and openhearted to learning from any source.  As such, they do not close themselves off from the obvious.  Considering all of the above, it is clear that adulthood holds true minority status in present-day society, where the youth are venerated and the elderly rarely attain true adulthood.  Adults can see the joys of life in “the little things” - the value of simplicity and having enough - in contrast to the fashion-driven, bigger-is-better, mine-is-better-than-yours mentality of immature culture. (Did you think that impatient, over-stuffed, chain-smoking, SUV-weaving tailgater behind you was an adult?) Adults value embracing serenity and surrender to the true Higher Power of the Universe over hiding in security, sensation (including drugs and sex) and power illusions as a way of dealing with their life situations. Thus appreciating that the purpose of Life is “getting high” through surrender to growth through the Natural Order of the Universe, adults recognize themselves as a minority in our material world.  Accepting the inevitable loneliness that comes with true intimacy being limited to true adults, the adult draws most of his or her strength from Inner Resources.  Rebellion against this obvious fact is childish.

    10)   Attaining true adulthood is the most challenging accomplishment of human existence.  Age does not grant adulthood.  Regardless of rights conferred, laws cannot grant it. Neither becoming a parent, nor accomplishing formal education or career goals attains it.  It is a total body-mind-spirit thing.  Probably, the most reliable indication of one’s approaching the attainment of adulthood is the thoughtful hesitation of making any such proclamation.  Rebellion against this obvious fact is childish.

    Please consider these things the next time you are overwhelmed with the impulse to remind us of your attainment of adulthood.  Otherwise, you risk the possibility of riling those of us who recognize that we are still working on it.

    Love,

     

    Dad (or Mom, Your Parents, etc.)

     

    Copyright 2002, 2006 by Granville Angell: With the exception of single credited copies for personal use, permission in writing is required to reproduce any of this material in any form. Since this material relates to my livelihood and creative opportunities, ALL RIGHTS ARE RESERVED. (See updated 2006 version in response to a question.)

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