PARENTING QUESTION: When Do My Kids Become Adults? I had breakfast with Jeff Snow yesterday. Jeff is a long-standing OC Influencer for Good whose professional life is with Republic Services, one of OC’s waste disposal companies. Additionally, Jeff sits as a volunteer on seventeen Boards and is an Adjunct Professor in business ethics at a private OC christian university.
So, let me tell you about the focus of our conversation…totally unexpected and most invigorating! We talked about parenting. Jeff and his wife are raising two children, a daughter who just graduated from high school and a son who is in high school. Jeff said something fascinating to me when he stated, (paraphrasing) “I want my parenting responsibilities to go on for as long as they can. I’d love to have my active, direct parental influence to accompany their life all the way until they are 30!
That was a “Wow.” We hear how the Millennials never leave home and never grow up. Jeff sees it differently. The parenting game with Millennials requires more active time and attention. “Bring it on.” Jeff’s clarity was apparent. I asked him why he thought as he did. He had a crisp response. Again, let me capture the flow of Jeff’s thinking…not his actual words:
My kids are likely going to live to be well over 100. This generation will totally transform the paradigm of life expectancy. This younger generation is looking at life and work totally differently than we have.
The Millennial generation will work well into their 80’s and 90’s, not out of necessity but out of the health, vitality, productivity and lifestyle that will be different from our generation. Anticipating their longer life, my children will experience their professional years differently. Changing cultural circumstances are in play. We, parents, need not define our children’s entry into the adult world in the same way our generation and our parent’s generation did.
The learning, discovering and maturation for what might be called professional life work is going to start later and last much longer. As a parent, I see it my opportunity and desire to nurture my kids’ movement into adulthood with a distinctly different paradigm not defined by the one that guided me.
My narrative: Jeff’s thoughtful exploration of what is happening in our culture with the development of children into adulthood is far more insightful and purposeful than the ongoing national lament we hear about Millennials that basically asks these question: Why aren’t our kids doing what we did? What’s the problem? Why aren’t they making things happen like we did at 25-30?
Jeff sparked my imagination because he sees the content of his parenting in the context of radically changing life expectancy. The actuarial reality of ‘up and coming’ adulthood offers a new, unknown curve of learning, preparing, exploring, and discovering. It’s different. Jeff sees his parenting responsibilities and interests as vitally important to help his kids prepare for an adult world neither he nor they fully understands…but he knows he is 100% committed to be a force of influence for good in the changing cultural milieu of his kids becoming competent, caring, capable adults.
Jeff’s viewpoint: Welcome the extended years of practicing effective parenting at the side of young adult children. Be their partner and join them on their road. Don’t pursue an agenda that says, “Do it my way.”
Jeff was refreshing. He knows his kids will live in a world that will be quite different than the one he understands. He knows his Parenting Why: Encourage. Guide. Accompany.
What say you, Inspiration Impulse Reader? Would love to receive some input.