Monday, January 20, 2014

Parenting the Young Adult

When I was a young adult, I could always count on my parents to be there when I had a question or problem: how do you hard boil an egg? how do you change a flat tire? what is an escrow account? how do you get wine out of the carpet? how much should I contribute to my 401k? what should I do, Adam ate a tube of lipstick? My dad was there when I bought my first car and my mom mentored me in preparing my first Thanksgiving turkey.

Now it's my turn to help my boys successfully transition to adulthood, now known as "launching."  It's a fine line to tread of being proactive, also known as lecturing and letting them learn from their mistakes.

Recently, Eli decided to cancel his overdraft protection at the bank because they were charging $60 a pop. His contention was that now the bank wouldn't  allow any purchases when he didn't have money in his account. I tried to explain that this wasn't going to prevent him from overdrawing his account, and someone could still come after him with fees, it just might be CVS or Outback.  The lecture went on for some time, on the importance of tracking all expenditures to ensure this doesn't happen.  Of course, with his generation they don't write checks, so the likelihood of overdraft is reduced but as I explained there are still some small businesses that don't process their debits immediately, which could put him in the position of overdrawing his account if he is not careful.

I have been providing Eli with recipes and cooking lessons in preparation for cooking in his apartment this year, only to hear that he cooks Hamburger Helper, ramen noodles and rice and vegetables exclusively.  I don't know why it drives me crazy that he and his roommates have a pet turtle, am I worried it might die over Winter break because they failed to get someone to look after it?  And it was all I could do when visiting not to bag up the overflowing garbage can and carry it to the dumpster.

Pat and I did win one war with Eli in December when he casually decided to leave Macomb to go back to Normal in a blizzard, or as close as we come to a blizzard in these parts. He had a commitment to play trumpet at graduation the next morning and it didn't help my fury that he came home the day before to see the midnight showing of "The Hobbitt" and that he waited all day when the weather was fine, to leave at dark just as the storm hit. I do remember a few harrowing drives back to Drake in white out conditions which probably gave me the resolve to put my foot down regardless of the consequences with his music professors. Actually, the truth is I had to get Pat to back me up and resolutely bar him from leaving. He moped around all night, but was over it in 24 hours.

Why is this focusing so much on Eli? Adam rarely asked a question or let his guard down enough to show vulnerability or a need to communicate.  Cal is still home and not spreading his wings too much yet. So, it falls to Eli to be the guinea pig of our loosening parental influence.  I think he will be all right, especially if I can learn to let go and allow him to learn from own his mistakes.