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I'm not a parent but...

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If I were, I'd do things differently. 
I'm really sick and tired of watching and hearing about children and young adults being set up for failure in life, while their parent's believe they're doing what's best.  What's worse is that many will blame other influences like technology, media, and peers for their children's faults. 
If it ain't broke - don't fix it.   "When I was a kid, my parents would never let me do that".  Well, did you turn out ok?  Yes?  Then why are your kids doing it?  
Couple weeks ago I was talking to my mom on the phone, when she asked me if I would drive my 21 year old sister home from school.  Normally I would.  Last year my husband and I picked her up twice a week - no problem.  However, up until her first day this semester she was supposed to have a summer job.  This way she can gain working experience and begin to pay off her $40,000 worth of student debt and cell phone bills.  Like many young adults lacking life/work experience, it was difficult for her to find somewhere that was hiring.   Instead of taking on this challenge, she admitted defeat after only a handful of applications. 
Now, my sister is very academically intelligent who is focused on becoming a history or English professor. She just couldn't be bothered to leave her comfort zone, even if that meant a more secured and comfortable future for herself.   I suggested that she try contacting a temp agency, much like I did when I was her age (actually, I was 4 years younger and practically homeless, but that's another story).  I offered to provide transportation, I even offered to set up her appointment to register.  I told her about how perfect temp work is for students returning to school.  With them filling mostly entry level positions, she wouldn't have to worry about qualifications.  Hell, even if what they set her up with wasn't for her, all she would have to do is ask to be put somewhere else.   She wouldn't have to worry about interviews, or even calling the companies to ask if they're hiring.    Sounds easy right?  
Apparently not easy enough.  I honestly thought, given her academic discipline, that she would do it.  But she didn't.   Hell, she was even too lazy to come up with an excuse, and when I asked her why she hadn't contacted them yet (or asked me to contact them on her behalf) she simply said "I just didn't yet."Now we're two weeks into the new school year, and she's dodged the bullet - for now.   My parents have seemed to have long forgotten about her need for employment, and have basically come to terms with the fact that they are an additional $40,000 away from retiring when they had planned. Although this doesn't effect me personally, I'm not about to go against what I believe is best, and let her get away with everything like everyone else does. 
Feeling the consequences for your actions, or the lack thereof, is important in life.  Especially when you are 21 years old, and already significantly in debt, with no way or plan to pay it off.   But I don't blame her.  For someone who's never been pushed, who's never been desperate, and someone's who's never had anything held against her - I can't expect her to suddenly develop the motivation to take on life and it's responsibilities, by walking away from an easy life full of hand-outs and "it's ok"s.   My parents, especially my mother, does.  In fact, my mother and I are not on speaking terms because of it.   
My mother honestly believes that my sister - since she is now an adult, and doing the right thing academically, will flawlessly make the transition into independence on her own.   She's betting $40,000 that she will immediately find employment as a professor in a University or College, close to home, long before the bank enlists the help of a collections agency.  Apparently, she will also suddenly decide that the life-long eating disorder she has will vanish into thin air, without any need for professional assistance.  The line "she's an adult now, I can't tell her what to do" flows out of my mother's mouth with such ease.  It makes me cringe knowing that my mother thinks she can rid herself of guilt and responsibility so damn easily.  If that doesn't work, she'll just hang up on me. Which is what she did the last time we spoke, more than 2 weeks ago.
Which brings me back to her asking me to give my sister a ride home.   Once again I'm the asshole - why? I said "No".   I offered my sister a ride anywhere she needed to go.   I tried to assist her in her job search, but I was waved off like a wasp at a picnic.   That's fine, but I'm not like my mother.  I'll help anyone I can, but I'm no sucker.  I will definitely not facilitate and nurture a destructive attitude.   Besides, if they're willing to swallow a $40,000 for something they didn't get anything out of, then a few $20 cab rides should go down no problem.  
All of this really makes me think about my own life.   The choices I made when I was a teen are still haunting me to this day.    I always had this short-term effect attitude that made me believe that no matter what I did, it would always be ok.  No matter how many days of school I missed (2-3 days a week on average in high school), I was still convinced that I would pass. If I didn't, I would deal with it then.    I wasn't afraid of getting in shit from my parents, because I knew that it wouldn't so much as put a bump in the road to where ever I was going at the time - good or bad.  Looking back I realize that my parent's took no interest in my life, aside from anything that either cost them money, or was attributed to them by my school principle.  They never enlisted me in any extracurricular activities what so ever.  In fact, my mother once called the police to report me missing, because she forgot I was staying after school to help with some Christmas PTA thing.  She always said things like "I'm sick and tired of coming up with excuses for you Bernadette".  But every time I played hookie, she called me in sick.   I wasn't in the right of mind.  I was incapable of making clear and beneficial choices for myself.     It's not that I didn't know what would happen, I just didn't care as long as I was having fun now - that's all that mattered. 
It took me over 6 years to pick up the pieces, and develop the right attitudes through trial and error.   And that's without $40,000 worth of debt hanging over my head.   I'm so damn lucky that I didn't end up pregnant, addicted, or dead.  Which is a lot more than I can say for the majority of my old "friends".  I didn't completely fuck my life, but I came pretty damn close, and it was never a situation that my parents were able to control through their "I give up" methods.  
I'm sorry people. I know kids can put up a good fight, and you think you've done all that you can. But if they continue the behaviour - you've given up at some point.   I didn't think so at the time, but after all was said and done, I really needed to face consequences for my actions at the time of those actions.  I needed someone I could go to for help, and words I could trust. It would have saved me so much time and stress. Your kids are not going to ask for dicipline. They're going to think they know what's best for themselves, and they're going to retaliate against anyone who stands in their way.    
One of the best things a parent can do, in my opinion, is stick to their guns.  You don't have to structure their entire lives, but regardless of age, they should know that if you say it you mean it.  They don't need to know why you've put your foot down, they just have to know that you did.  Threatening to take their cell phone away will only get the chores done once. Take it away, and they'll do their chores without rebuttle.  I never took my mother seriously, and I still don't.  I've lost a lot of respect for her, through hypocrasy and childish bullshit alone.  Both of our lives would have been much better without the arguing. Hell, we still argue.  I still can't stay in the same room with her for too long.  I can't stand to hear her bitch about me and my sibblings, how I made her life hell, and how she feels she couldn't do anything to control me.   I see her as someone who is stubborn for all the wrong reasons, someone who would rather make and excuse than an effort.    Although I am at a point where I am proud of what I've become - I also know how lucky I am to have realized everything when I did.  I sought professional help, on my own.  I took a good hard look at myself, and somehow managed to make the appropriate adjustments.  
I've got my own life now.  I have a loving husband who agrees with my stance on this, and mostly everything else too.  I have a good job, a car to get me there, and we're well on our way to gathering the down payment on our first house.  Life is good.  Maybe someday I'll have the opportunity to put what I preach into practice.  
Tyaeda Uploaded 09/19/2012
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