Tag Archives: Independent

Will You Still Need Me, When You’re Thirty-Four?*

Letting go is easy.

Not grabbing them when they’re falling. . . that’s much, much harder.

Rearing children means that you’re responsible for not only their safety and well being at the very moment (and every moment), but that you’re supposed to be laying the groundwork for them to take control over their own lives and make good decisions on their own.Burning magnesium is really, really, really, really bright.

The first part of that last sentence is enough to drive just about anyone to the edge of sanity. The second part is what will take you, pick you up and hurl you like a caber so far over the line that even on a dark night you wouldn’t even be able to see it if it were etched in neon and burning magnesium.

Children are the living embodiment of the thought that everything has consequences. What you do with and to them now will have lasting ramifications in their later lives.

As parents, we want to make sure our little dudes and dudettes learn not only from their own experiences, but our experiences. That way, they won’t have to suffer like we did. That is the platonic ideal of parenting, but you know no teenager ever actually listens. Why would they? I mean, they already know everything already.**This is an example of a very stupid punishment. Firstly, twerking? That's what you're worried about? I'd think peer pressure would be enough to curtail that after a few tries. Secondly, if you think public shaming will teach her any lesson beyond "Don't get caught," you're crazy.

Which is why punishing kids ever more extravagantly as they grow older isn’t going to work all that well for you later on.

The most important lesson you can pass along to your little dudes is the instinct to, when they don’t actually know what to do or where to go, actually ask questions. Ask for help. And more, turn back to their parents for the first shot at offering said help.

Even now, I’ll use my dad as a sounding board before making certain decisions. I know he’s got my best interests at heart and has experienced a lot of what I’m already going through and he’s one of the smartest people I’ve ever met. And I say this long after the parent-worshiping phase has worn off.

It took a while, I will admit. I didn’t look to my parents as sources of help until some time after college. Before that, I was bound and determined to do it my way because I was the smartest man (I am a MAN!) in the room.

Fortunately, my parents didn’t start screaming at me when I made a bad decision or did something stupid as I was growing up. They offered advice, let me know what was expected and, for the most part, were calm but firm when I crossed the line.

The teenage years didn’t irreparably damage our relationship. Thankfully.

As the young dudes grow older and the consequences of their dumb decision-making become more significant, the urge to tighten our grip and tell them exactly what to do can become overwhelming. If you want to have any influence in your little dudette’s life as she grows older, you must let her make her own decisions.

That doesn’t mean you don’t set rules or allow her to do whatever she wants, whenever she wants. However, once you’ve made clear your expectations and the consequences of not meeting said expectations, you have to simply drop into an advisory role and pick your battles with extreme care.

I’ve always felt that, as long as it’s not disturbing class, my young dudes could wear whatever they wanted, have whatever hair cut they wanted. If I thought they looked horrible . . . Well, my being horrified by their looks probably was a plus.Didn't we already do that? When they were 18? I'm almost positive they were supposed to move out at one point.

Provide options, help them understand probable scenarios from various actions, but don’t’ try to force your decisions on them.

It’s never easy watching as your darlings make a mistake, but it’s one of the necessary steps they have to take if they ever want to grow up and be independent.

After all, we all want to use that extra bedroom as a place for us, not as the room for your adult child who’s moved back in.

Footnotes & Errata

* Still apologizing to the Beatles, still not regretting using the allusion even one little bit.
** For the sarcasm-impaired among you, that was sarcasm. Teenagers don’t really know everything. They just think they do. This has been a friendly reminder from Mr. Obvious.

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Mother Nature Can Be A Mean Mutha

Mother Nature has a wicked sense of humor.

As an adult, you’re pretty much independent of the weather. Oh, I don’t mean that you can go outside in a blizzard, naked and enjoy a rousing game of snowball fighting without causing yourself some severe damage.

I just mean that we adults have ways around various weather-related catastrophes, such as seeing the baseball game you were looking forward to get rained out an hour before the first pitch was to be thrown. We can’t make the game go forward, but we are mature enough to realize that it wasn’t personal* nor the end of the world and then choose something else to do that day.

Little dudes and dudettes? Not so much. To them, the weather is personal. It really doesn’t want them to see the soccer game, or experience playing in the new park for the first time or take the dog to the dog park to let it off the leash and watch the ensuing craziness.The original title of this said something about politics, but I really don't see anything political about a tornado bearing down on a car, do you?

If you’re like me and you want to at least appear to make the attempt to rear your children in such a way as to suggest that the outdoors is not something to be avoided at all costs, you quickly realize that maybe the little dudette was right about it being personal.

We live in the south. I’ve lived in the south (if we count fashionable far-north Dallas as the south and I do) for almost all of my life. Which means that summers have always been hot. It’s not even so much a question of how hot, but will it break a record today? I am used to going around outside in the heat.

Sweating doesn’t bother me. I’ve learned to enjoy the shade for the delightful break it really is.

That’s me.

One of the first things I came to realize when I became the person in charge of rearing three young boys in a day-to-day basis, is that any temperature that isn’t 72 degrees Fahrenheit is way too (insert hot or cold here, depending on season) and they’re going. . . to. . . die!

Which, oddly, they never did do. Despite the whining and the horror-show shrieking whenever we’d go outside into the bright sunlight and heat and humidity, the little dudes still lived.

I think a lot of this comes from the immaturity of the young dude brain. In that, when something goes wrong, they feel the need to apportion blame. Something can’t just happen. It has to have been done by someone to them.

And because every bad occurrence is seen as having been directed at them, they take it personally and get much more angry than would seem reasonable to an adult. Or at least someone cleverly disguised as a responsible adult.

This is the bit about the sense of humor. Knowing all this about how kids see adverse changes in plans, what do you suppose happened every time I had talked them into going outside in the heat to, maybe, go swimming?

If you guessed the advent of a once-in-a-century lightning storm crashing down on us just as we got to the pool. . . Well, you’ve obviously been reading this blog for a while.

When you’d actually look at the weather, see an almost certain day of rain coming and plan for a trip to the movies. . . Of course it’s one of the nicest, sunniest days on record.

It can get annoying, but I think this kind of adversity is good for their them, making them stronger, better able to handle the twists and turns of life that aren’t part of a water slide you can’t use because it started lightning and only does it every 30 minutes which is enough because they make you wait 35 minutes between strikes to get back into the water.

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State Of Emotion

Surveys are weird.

No, really. I mean, there’s stuff out there on the interweebs, some pushed by relatively sedate and well-respected organizations, that just make no sense.

Take, for instance, this interest survey that is designed to tell us what state of the United States you most resemble.

Yes. You read that right.

From the science portion of Time Magazine, the survey is designed to tell those taking it where they might best fit in amongst the 50 not-as-united-as-you-might-think states.State of emotion

It’s no secret that a lot of (our famously different personalities and cultures) seems to be determined by — or at least associated with — where we live.

Now a multinational team of researchers led by psychologist and American expat Jason Rentfrow of the University of Cambridge in the U.K. has sought to draw the regional lines more clearly, literally mapping the American mood, with state-by-state ratings of personality and temperament.

After having taken the test, I’ve found something interesting about myself. Apparently, I’d fit in best in the state of Oregon. I rank in the top 10 of openness and agreeableness, but low in every other measure. Which I did not expect. At all.

Of course, I hadn’t given it much thought. Certainly not as much thought as I’ve given to, for example, if I were a tree, what kind of tree I would be. That consumes a lot of brain power, let me tell you.

What? Why are you looking at me like that? It’s an important question*.

Moving on.

The survey results were based on data taken from more than 1 million people interviewed across the United States. It found some other interesting data that, again, I did not expect.

According to the study, the winners (or losers, depending on how you view these things) were in some cases surprising and in some not at all. The top scorers on extroversion were the ebullient folks of Wisconsin(picture the fans at a Packers game — even a losing Packers game). The lowest score went to the temperamentally snowbound folks of VermontUtah is the most agreeable place in the country and Washington, D.C., is the least (gridlock, anyone?).

For conscientiousness, South Carolina takes the finishing-their-homework-on-time prize, while the independent-minded Yanks of Maine — who prefer to do things their own way and in their own time, thank you very much — come in last. West Virginia is the dark-horse winner as the country’s most neurotic state (maybe it was the divorce from Virginia in 1863). The least neurotic? Utah wins again. Washington, D.C., takes the prize for the most open place — even if their low agreeableness score means they have no idea what to do with all of the ideas they tolerate. North Dakotans, meantime, prefer things predictable and familiar, finishing last on openness.

Why not go over to the site and take a gander at the test. I’d love to hear where you dudes and dudettes sorted out.

*If you must know, it’s an weeping atlas cyprus. For all the obvious reasons.


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