I am convinced that “parenting” causes otherwise rational people — people whose thought processes are not typically driven by emotion — to lose their minds. If that is not the case, then why, ever since 1970 (or thereabouts), when “parenting” replaced the simple, straightforward process of raising children to adulthood, are so many parents allowing capable young adults to live at home?
And while I’m at it, why do so many of these same parents wind up asking me how to get said young people out of their houses? The fact that the parents in question can’t figure that out is evidence that “parenting” is causing people to lose all semblance of touch with common sense.
“Tell him he has to leave,” I answer, playing the genius.
With rare exception, my answer releases an outpouring of reasons why they can’t tell said child to leave: He doesn’t have a job; he’s immature; he’s got anxiety issues; he’s in therapy; he has a mole on his left thumb. The latter is me being facetious, of course. Believe it or not, however, I’ve heard excuses every bit as, uh, absurd.
C’mon! Give me a break! You’ve gotta be kidding me! I have yet to hear an excuse that makes any sense. Adult children who are basically capable should not be freeloading off their parents, depleting their retirement accounts. They need to get off family welfare, get out into the world, and get on with the business of figuring it out.
The excuses are irrefutable proof of codependency, which since 1970 has become rampant in American “parenting.” My parents and their peers in the Greatest Generation were not in codependent relationships with their kids because they weren’t parenting. They were raising human beings into states of responsible adulthood, and what a wonderful thing that is for both parents and child.
My lessons in personal responsibility began when I was 4 years old. I’d gone out to play in my church pants and come home with grass stains on the knees. My mother filled up the wash tub (she did not have a washing machine), added soap, and told me I was going to learn to wash my own clothes. It took me over an hour to get the grass stains out, at which point I had a greatly enhanced understanding of the meaning of “church pants.”
That’s how to emancipate a child. Begin when the child is young to let him know that he’s going to be able to make a better life for himself than you are willing to make for him.
“What if he doesn’t find a job and has to come back home?”
“What does “he has to” mean? One thing’s for certain: As long as he knows you’ll let him back in, he has no reason to find a job.”
Codependency is addictive to both parties. The addiction of codependency, furthermore, is every bit as debilitating as addiction to a substance. It’s such a humongous problem today that there’s even a support group network for it. It’s called Co-Dependents Anonymous International. Their website is at CoDA.org.
If you recognize yourself in this column, you might want to get in touch with them. Be forewarned! Getting out of a codependent relationship will be one of the hardest things you’ve ever done. But getting out will be a great gift to both yourself and the other person.
Family psychologist John Rosemond: johnrosemond.com, parentguru.com.