Friday, August 26, 2016

Dysfunctional, Distraught, Discouraged on Parenthood of new-Collegiate

Posted by Daring Delightful Digital Diva at 2:32 PM
I sit here post-mortem reflection after dropping our oldest of FIVE off at college. A big step everyone has told us about and warned us about!  It happened!  I have had so many thoughts in the last few weeks, but the one that stands out that I would like to share with ANY of you parents so that you can prepare NOW for your future (to avoid these feelings of course) is this:

I have done a disservice to society and sent my child out into the world not as prepared as I had hoped!!!!

Now, I will give you that I have only been bonus mom or even known the oldest for 4 years, so really how much could I accomplish right?  He didn't yet live with us right away, but moved with us two years ago, so that is my time of influence: 2 years compared to a lifetime of childhood history, example, etc.
  • Balance a checkbook?
  • Order textbooks online at various sites?
  • Look for items for yourself (while in your tiny half of a dorm room with one closet?)
  • Make a to do list?
  • Remember appointments?
  • Make a doctor's appointment?
  • Survive on own?
  • Feed yourself? Cook for yourself?
  • Remember the computer charger for college? That might be important!
Each one of those thoughts simply leads to other thoughts like this: Can he balance a checkbook? --> How would he pay bills? --> If he gets a job, can he set up autopay? --> Does he know what NSF is?  --> How will he know what money is "spoken for" for those bills, vs spend? --> Will he save some of each paycheck like we taught him? --> the list goes on and on.

Here is what I know. We did the best we could. Period.  We are not done by any means, but life is different now.  There is a young adult, not a child. Not on his own. New territory. 

ADVICE, TEACHINGS, and not ENABLING is the only solution I can seek.
Tough love. Real world.

I tested out this theory today when he texted me asking if I can bring an item when I come through town on Sunday.  Now I have made a list.  It occurred to me on this NOT ENABLING front that I am enabling him by keeping track and making a list. So here's how this conversation went:
  • Me: "You need to make a list, and I will bring it. That requires pen and paper, or that crazy little gadget of a phone with a notepad app, reminder app, or to do list app"
  • Him: texts me 2 items that he needs. Now mind you, he only remembered ONE of the TWO most important things for starting college: the laptop charger, and my list has about 8-10 items on it.  He did not even remember the textbook that arrived after he'd left. Lacrosse ball was on his mind I guess ;)
  • Me: "That's all I am supposed to bring? How about textbook, etc, etc,  You need to remember things without me now, so keep the list going!"
  • Him "List: Laptop charger, underroos, Geography textbook, 10 other secret things" (can I say that at least he cracks me up? He is funny funny to me!
  • Me: "Crack open that planner, write things down, and if you remember 3 more things, then I will bring you all the stuff on my list too"
  • Him: "awesome"
Lesson in this?
  • Teach your kids earlier to keep track of themselves and their things. Let them pay the price if they do not.  I could be farther than an hour away and not going through town. I could make him pay shipping for me to ship it to him. Now, he is not a bad kid by any means, but he sure can't keep track of stuff, remember stuff and it will affect him. Procrastination will affect him too at some point. He will miss a test, get fired from a job, or any number of things.  Let's hope that these things will also teach him to be better about it and that he will improve. 
  • Teach your kids finances earlier. He had a checking account with a debit card long before I could teach balancing a checkbook and how you would pay bills, account for your money and budget to live within your means.  Credit card offers abound when you are in college and too many people rack up credit cards at high interest rates. Verbally I taught him some tricks.
The trick for us now is to not bail him out, help him out, but enable him to help himself. Teach him to fish instead of feeding him fish. he remembered those fishing poles and fly-tying stuff - just not the computer charger or textbook in his list to bring! Here's to hoping things kick in soon! 

Discouraged, Dysfunctional, Distraught, Diva MAMA!

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