The path for many includes some degree of assistance from their parents, such as food, housing, money, and other gifts. These are all well and good as long as children are children, but in getting too much from parents, children will never really grow up. They will continue to be dependent on others and not find the beautiful gifts that come from response-ability.
Response-ability is taking care of oneself
Response-ability is to enjoy the consequences of one’s actions. It’s the way in which individuals hold onto their independence and learn to be in the world in beautiful ways. It’s not the thing you’ve been taught—sometimes having too much to do in taking care of others. No, it’s sort of the opposite.
Response-ability means that you take more from yourself than from others. In this, you understand things deeper, and you learn what works for you and what doesn’t. You may fail sometimes because you try things, but how is that wrong?
Indeed, the responsibility you create for yourself has everything to do with living happily forever. And we mean forever, for when you die, you will take all your beautiful experiences and lessons with you, without needing to fear they will be lost. When you go, you will go as you, and nothing can, at any time, take away the joys of finding your true self, your intent in life, and the areas of expression you were born to have.
You’re not responsible for giving a child what they want
Many children have been raised to believe they rule the world. This is not that far fetched of a claim: they run the household with their wants, thinking that everything is supposed to revolve around them. Parents with the best intentions give into this sort of behavior by doing just that, thinking that when people get what they want, they will be happy. This is not at all the case. Desires are what bring you happiness. The desire to bang on pots and pans will bring more happiness than the loud toy from the store the child wants but does not truly desire.
Wants are a very tricky thing: you don’t really want your wants. You want your desires, and to give a child everything he or she wants is about the worst thing you can do because it will cause you to be the source of all happiness. Is that what you really want from your child? We don’t think so. So, you’re not responsible for giving a child what they want.
Failure teaches wholeness
Second, many children are raised to believe that failure is wrong because it means they aren’t good enough. Wrong. Failure embodies a child with tenacity and resilience. Each time a child fails, it learns to be whole. It learns to lose. In this, you may be sometimes lured into the sickness of wanting to win all the time. This is a better topic for another missive, but the belief in winning all the time isn’t only wrong, it’s pathological, so strike that from your thinking.
The path to being happy, therefore, isn’t what you want, what you get, or even if you win or lose. Happiness comes from self-knowledge. Even the worst experiences bring self-knowledge. Even the worst types of friends, and the worst places to live, can bring self-knowledge.
Therefore, why would a parent choose to not allow these things to happen in the child’s life? Because they may not want to admit they might be seen as failures as parents. This is the brutal truth and something you need to address as a society sooner than later. Millions of teenagers are addicted to things they can’t handle, each one missing out on the failures in life because they’ve been taught that this is not an option. Do you see how this is a big problem?
The world provides what one needs and desires
The world will reach into each person’s life with the things they need and desire. It will teach each person what they need to know. It will gate the experiences at exactly the time the person needs to learn it. The gate is each person’s intention, and this is why you were each born to life in the world.
If a child does not have some degree of response-ability and independence by the time they’re twenty, something needs to be created to move them into new spaces. This might be having some kind of rent or food provision to live with you. This might also include another kind of push out the door, such as a rent increase in a few months. This will slowly send the message they are expected to move out and be free of the dependence on you. (Yes, there are exceptions. Some children need to be more dependent than others, but this is not the case almost 100% of the time.)
You can be free of dependence
The parents of children who are in their twenties and still dependent need to forgive themselves for anything they view as a mistake and allow the child to go into the world. Parents cannot afford—no matter how much money they make—to continue to keep the child dependent.
Why do parents keep the child dependent? They may want to be companions—in spite of how much they also don’t want to be companions—or to keep the child safe. They may hear tales of how hard it is to make it on one’s own in the world. This is not ever the case. There’s always something safe and healthy that an adult can do to make a living as long as they are willing to live simply.
How fun is it to find out how to run your own household using thrift store finds? How wonderful, as well as accomplishing, that is to somebody who’s never done it before? Do you imagine that would be a good way to learn response-ability? Yes, it would! How to cook, clean, love somebody—these are all ways that young people have to explore without your intervention all the time.
You can cut the cord
How does a parent allow the child to not continue to live with them, or to not move back in with them? By saying “This is not going to work for me. I need my space and I need you to be dependent on yourself.” Period. There’s no harm in doing this. There may be times when temporary assistance is needed, however the job of parents is to help grow grownups, not children who are in adult bodies.
Love yourselves enough to be grownups, and be grownups who help others be grownups. There are too many children in grownup bodies now to help fix the world’s problems. Bring up children to depend on themselves and you will be the happiest of all grownups. So do so.