Sunday, February 21, 2010

Getting your kids to be successful

My oldest is 6-years-old and I am already wondering how to make sure he goes to college and gets a job that will pay enough for him to live on his own. Older adult children living at home seems to be a common theme these days. In my opinion, it isn't just an economic problem. It's an entitlement problem. For some reason, I have met a lot of kids in their 20s who don't have a strong work ethic. They feel like they should be given certain things in life-food, shelter and clothing-without working for it. I understand young college grads are having a hard time finding a job right now due to the poor economy, but I want my kids to be one of the few who do get hired.

So how do you get young adults to have a strong work ethic and be motivated to provide for themselves? I would guess you don't wait until the kids are teenagers for one.

So I am starting young. I think having an allowance is a good idea. We, unfortunately, have not succeeded at that. I end up getting busy during the week and not keeping track of the chores. My son never seems to remember anyway. I think I will try chores and an allowance again next year. For now, I am taking every opportunity I can to explain to him how much things cost and how you have to earn money to buy things. Then we talk about where he wants to live when he grows up and what things he wants to buy with his money. He has several careers in mind already from a movie director to a carpenter to a professional baseball player to a mail carrier. I don't care what he picks, I just want him to start picturing himself with a job and his own house.

I also think discipline has a lot to do with giving kids the motivation to live on their own. If the theme is, "when you live here, you live under my rules," the kids are going to want to get out as soon as they can! I certainly don't want my kids to be miserable, but I don't want them to be so comfortable they don't leave either! I am hoping to retire someday with my husband and get a little condo on the beach. Plus, kids who take responsibility for themselves are better off in the long run.

Here are some tips I found on how to get your adult child out of the house:

FROM EZINE: There are at least a couple of reasons that you've actually been quite willing to be deceived by your son.

First, you're concerned that if you make him leave home, he might not like you. Tough. We want our children to love us because it makes us feel better--mostly unconsciously, we USE our children--and in order to get their approval, we avoid teaching them the difficult lessons in life they must learn in order to be happy.

Second, as we take care of our children--when they depend on us--we feel needed, and that gives many of us a strong sense of worth and importance. If that keeps us from helping our children to be independent, though, we're actually using our children and hurting them. In our defense, it becomes especially difficult not to take care of them when they claim they just can't live without our help.

It's time for your son to grow up. You're requiring that he leave because you love him. Loving him means being concerned about his genuine happiness, not just his temporary comfort. Genuine happiness comes from being responsible, and you're helping him do that, even though he might be inconvenienced and even uncomfortable in the short term.

Give him a specific date--at most a month or two away--and tell him that by that date he has to be completely moved out. When you have this discussion, you can't be the least bit irritated. If you are, he'll see what you're doing as a punishment, and then he'll feel like a victim and defend himself instead of seeing that this is just the next right thing for him to do.

Even if you do this in a loving way, he might still react with anger. He might tell you that you're being unkind and insensitive. You cannot let that change your decision. Simply repeat that you're making this decision for his benefit, and that you have complete confidence in him that he'll succeed. Without meaning to, as you keep taking care of him, you're communicating the message that he's a loser and couldn't make it in life without your help.

Make a plan: For instance, you might give your daughter six months to travel, explore her career options, set up a savings plan and get used to the idea of being an adult. You might say that within nine months, she must start paying $200 rent and a portion of the bills; within a year she needs to find roommates and a potential locale; and within 18 months she should have saved up enough to move out.

What is your plan? How are you going to make sure your kids don't try to mooch off of you when they are adults?

-NewsAnchorMom Jen

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