Tough Love


The other day over coffee, a friend told me about her twenty-two-year-old-college-graduate-working-full-time-son that was still living at home with she and her husband...'The Thing That Wouldn't Leave". "I'm sure he'll be moving into the nursing home with us" she said a little wearily. Free rent, food, utilities? Pleasant company? Why not?

Some kids have a need to eek out a space for themselves in this world of ours and some don't. I am a firm believer that those kids who 'don't' need a little nudge to get started. Encouraging a kid to get on with their life can be a tough one. Guilt plays a key role here especially in the multitudes of families that have been broken. It's important to note that there is nothing wrong with these 'hangers on' it's just that they kinda like the comfort, money, food and lack of responsibility that living at home offers them. Nobody said it would be easy to get out on their own but I am convinced that coddling an adult just makes for an adult that still acts like a kid.

In my family, it was made clear to all of us that when we were finished with school we were expected to get a job and if we chose to stay home for a while, we were to pay rent for room and board. No guilt there as both our parents still lived in the same home with us and still ruled. There were no exes, step-parents, alliances or other baggage to get in the way of common sense.

After graduating from high school, one of my siblings decided that she preferred to live at home and suck up any and all benefits that staying with mom and dad offered. College would have to wait for a year as she wasn't sure what she wanted to do yet and in her opinion, "there was no hurry". Occasionally, she was seen perusing newspaper "for jobs" after getting out of bed at noon,  but working every day really did not hold a great appeal for her.
One morning, Dad woke my sibling's sorry-ass up and told her to "get dressed - we're going downtown". "Why?" she asked. "I'll tell you when we get there" he said.

As they reached the center of Toronto's massive business district in the pouring rain, Dad pulled his pick-up truck over and (reportedly) said, "Get out, call me to pick you up when you've got a job."
My royally pissed-off sibling took cover from the rain in closest building. Without any other foreseeable options, she eventually made it to Human Resources, filled out an application, took a typing test and was offered a menial job. Despite not knowing anything about the company who hired her, her mission was accomplished and after partying with a friend in the city, she called Dad to come get her.

The company that she was now an employee of was one of the largest publishing companies in Canada. Throughout her tenure there, she created a successful niche for herself in sales.

Was it one of the hardest things my dad had to do? Was it one of the wisest things he did?

I'll bet it was.

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Heather said...

I don't know about some people, but I couldn't wait to get out of my parents' house. I went back to live with them for 3 months after college and that was MORE than enough time.

My parents never said anything about us leaving their house or charging us rent to stay, but I completely understand doing that!

Of course, I pretty sure my mom started moving stuff into my room before the door was shut on the moving van.