Truth be told I have written many books, yet, sadly, never to completion. The problem with most of my book ideas is that by the time I get to, say, writing chapter 5, I already disagree with myself over the content in the first couple of chapters.
The same holds true for a book I have been milling in my brain for years as I completely disagree with the concept and general thesis -having never even written a word. The book carried the working title, “Parenting in Thirds.” The idea behind this brilliant parenting “how to” book was to offer insight on how we must parent our children differently at each distinct stage of development; more specifically, the first 6 years, the second 6 years and finally, the third 6 years. With each level comes a parenting style that demands a different approach as children mature to ultimate independence.
Then, voila! They are 18 and the job is over.
Damn am I stupid. No, REALLY stupid.
The current working title is “Parenting: It Does Not Even Get Interesting nor Difficult Until Age 18.”
As a parent of 4 children, the youngest nearly 18, I must say that I am personally now afforded a certain amount of independence and free time, which is really nice in terms of pursuing certain things…like writing a blog. Though the problem with parenting children who are 18+ is that although the quantity of time spent decreases significantly, the “quality” of the problems, check that, the “issues” that arise increase exponentially.
I can handle the daughter who was made fun of in third grade or the son who got in trouble for running on the school playground (I can’t make that up people, it really happened); what is far more difficult is dealing with adult problems…and for the sake of respecting my wonderful adult children’s privacy, I will let you use your imagination on what those might be.
Though this I can tell you, these grown-up-size problems suck. Shit.
I believe the problem with the way I used to think was that I was using a lost, outdated and prejudiced paradigm –my own personal experience taken from my own personal generation.
Coming from blue collar parents who were too young to appreciate Al Jolson yet were too old to dig Elvis Presley at the time, I was closer to being pushed to work in a coal mine at age 18 than pushed to attend the lofty California Community College system.
In other words, by age 18, they were pretty much done. I am not sure what now has changed in society because it seems the parenting oven is just starting to warm up at age 18; everything leading up to this point was preheating. Do our children suffer from a prolonged adolescence? Is it the economy? Were we just a shitty generation of parents?
I will never forget the day of my high school graduation back in 1981. I was standing out in front of our house when the neighbor across the street, Mrs. Pafford, came over to congratulate me on graduation. She then said, “Well, welcome to the work force and join the rest of us.”
Mrs. Pafford worked for the postal service. She was miserable. I wanted something more.
And maybe that’s it. Our kids need something more-something other than just joining the daily grind and they need our help. It is a generation that needs different skills and assistance as we today have climbed the Maslow hierarchy to fulfill a different set of human needs.
And I guess that’s a good thing. Perhaps well worth the sacrifice to parent in fourths, or fifths. Sixths? God forbid.