I almost felt as if I were sitting in an office across from a fifty year old social worker and mother getting down to earth, no-nonsense advice on how to parent my adult child while reading “Later!” A Guide to Parenting A Young Adult.”
This is a how-to book, full of practical tips and if we are sensible, the authors seem to be saying, we will just get on with it. There is no room in this book for self-pitying, self recrimination or advice to stop blaming yourself for any poor behaviour your child may be exhibiting.
This is not to say that Later! is not a good book. In fact, I thought it was excellent.
British authors, Gill Hines and Alison Baverstock focus on the 18 to 25 year-old group who are just emerging into adulthood. They not only look at what is happening to these young adults around issues such as employment, sexuality, unexpected pregnancies, children living at home, unmotivated couch potatoes, drugs and alcohol, they also deal with parents who may be facing similar issues in their own lives at the same time as their children.
The organizations and social services they mention are British and so Canadians and readers of other nationalities will need to do their own research to find similar help where they live.
Hines and Baverstock are loud and clear about letting our young adults grow up by allowing them to make mistakes and to not confuse our children’s best interests with our own. Whether it is an unwanted pregnancy or a career choice, we have to step back and let our young adults decide what is best for them to avoid confusion now and life long resentment. We can help present options and the consequences of choices in a neutral way, but the final decision should rest with the young adult.
One of the most interesting and useful chapters is on how to help couch potatoes still living at home. These are the unemployed young people, who spend their waking hours in front of the television or surfing the internet with occasional trips to the kitchen for snack food and very little break in the routine. They take little or no pride in their personal appearance and they tend to be aggressive, surly and despondent.
The authors deal with how to communicate with them, how to suggest small activities at first to boost their morale, and how to get them back into the labour force, if it is only cutting grass and doing odd jobs at first.
Equally interesting is the authors’ list of what young adults want from their parents:
- Advice when they ask for it, not when you, their parents want to give it;
- Ongoing encouragement and applause; and
- Making an effort to fit in with their schedule rather than having them fit in with yours. Just be pleased to see them, whenever they show up.
And here is their list of what young adults don’t want from their parents:
- To be reminded of the mistakes they made as a child;
- To have you remember every specific detail of what they have told you in the past and to be asked about these things again when they are trying to forget and move on;
- To have their sense of discovery diminished. Be surprised and delighted by what they tell you. Let them tell you something;
- To keep the details of the problems in your life to yourself;
- To make them feel diminished by constantly telling them about your own exciting life;
- To be nagged; and
- To get comments that make them feel guilty about not thinking about you or seeing you.
I can’t imagine any of us never doing any of these things, no matter how hard we try. And besides, as I am sure my son knows, nagging is a form of love. ( I only nag him about one thing, honestly!)
The book is laden with information and tips and would be useful to parents to help them avoid mistakes when their children are coming of age.
What do you think young adults in the 18 to 25 year old age group want from their parents? I would love to hear from you so please respond in the Reply Box below.