The Kitchen Table….the place where meals and mentoring collide. Meaningful conversations about life and things that matter take place at the kitchen table….it’s about so much more than food and exercise. Our youngest son, Luke and I are on a road trip delivering him to his next step in becoming an adult, a Summer Internship with Siemens Engineering Group. I want to chat about raising independent adults. So pull up a virtual chair and join me as I’m enjoying some oats and fresh fruit from the Hampton Inn buffet in Mobile, Alabama.
From the moment our first offspring arrived, they found their way into every crack and crevasse of our existence. Life is NEVER the same. We’re on an extended adventure that we would have never been able to imagine! That being said, Kids fit right into our “Table Talk” conversations! So grab a cup of green tea, or lemon water and let’s chat..about raising Independent Adults.
My husband, Mark and I have had many conversations over the 32 years of our parenting regarding raising our brood of 5 to be God-fearing, honest, vivacious, resilient, self-reliant, industrious, and other-centered individuals. He seems to have a better radar when it comes to the practical applications of our goal. Maternal instincts feel best suited for nurturing and protecting. (Thus my willingness to drive to Dallas…when I hate driving even to Tampa!)
Mark ran across the impetus for this article last week in the Wall Street Journal in an article called, “Perpetual Adolescence and What to Do About It”. I highly recommend taking a few moments to read and get some insight into the puzzling scenario we find ourselves in as a society. A full 25% of our young adults 18-34 are living with their parents, dependent on them financially. The article talks about some of the reasons behind this huge shift in our culture.
-Our incredible wealth and the creature comforts to which our children are accustomed.
-Our reluctance to expose young people to the demands of real physical labor.
-The hostage-taking hold that all devices with a screen have on adolescent attention.
We seem to be in a “coming of age” crisis in America. Young folks are having a difficult time figuring out what it means to be an adult and WE have forgotten how to teach them to do so. I hope these ideas trigger some small changes in the way you parent your young children, and those that are not so young any longer. Please hear that we have no magic formula to share, and that we struggle right along with everyone else to provide experiences and tools for our children to become contributing, responsible adults. Our knees have the callouses to prove it. For those of you who prefer a summary of the article, here are the main points:
-Resist Consumption: Help your children figure out the difference between needs and wants.
-Embrace the pain (and beauty) of work: Look for opportunities to have your child experience real work and responsibility. Teach them to get their hands dirty and contribute in a physical way to a common goal.
-Connect across the generations: Living life according to your birth year is isolationistic and anti-social. Find ways to interact with ALL generations in a real and meaningful way.
-Travel Meaningfully: The lost “art of travel” includes leaving our familiar surroundings, customs, language and food. You can do this totally in the USA. Learn how others live and put your children in situations they don’t ordinarily see.
-Become Truly Literate: Reading requires attention, engagement and active questioning. Find ways to immerse your children in reading. Make your public library a destination event, possibly allowing your children to check out as many books as they are old each week. Think ahead. Find a list of books most would consider the basics of literacy. Read them aloud to your children and incentivize them to continue on their own. Most of all, read yourself!
The author of this article, Senator Sasse likens his parental responsibilities to teaching his kids to ride a bike. His method: Skip the training wheels and pad them in coats and ski pants and set them off down a slightly declining street. run behind them straddling the back wheel. Gently knock them side to side in the shoulders as they move along. At some point, they suddenly find their balance, mostly by accident. And now they’re riding!
Life is meant to be lived together. Bring your children along on your journey. Teach them why and how you do all the things you do that make you an adult.
Here’s to an awesome adventure! God Speed!
Here is a link to the article that got this whole Table Talk started! Enjoy!