Step one, acknowledge that from the get go you have no idea what you are doing. Remind yourself of that truth…often. Don’t worry if you forget. There will ALWAYS be someone at the ready to let you know…pretty much ALL THE TIME. Take a deep breath. Cry, because, yeah, sometimes you will feel like crying. Nod your head in agreement with the know-it-all asshole, because they are kind of right. But hang on…
Step two, let them cry it out…literally. Oh my gawd, it will shred your heart every single time; still let them cry it out and find their own thumb or binky or whatever it is they need to comfort themselves because to raise an adult they need to learn to take care of themselves…yeah, even when they are brand new and can’t find their own thumb in the dark of night. And while you are at it, teach them how to wipe their own butts. Lord willing, they might never need help with that for a very, very, very long time once they master that all-important skill.
Make them go to bed…even if they aren’t sleepy.
Get them up in the morning and make them wash their face, brush their teeth, comb their hair and go to school.
Before they play, make them do the homework and do THEIR very best…even if it means they have to do it again…which means you have to sit there with them making them do it all over again.
Make them pick up their toys, their dirty underwear. teach them how to empty and load the dishwasher, do the laundry, take out the trash and to leave things the way that they found them…or better literally everywhere they go.
Encourage them to set aside some of their birthday money to save…even if they look at you like you are an idiot. I promise you they will almost always think you are an idiot. Give them extra chores to earn that must have toy, latest and greatest tech or those shoes that literally every one else has.
Tell them to lend a hand and help out their little brother or sister, feed the cat and pick up the dog poop because at some point in their life they will be responsible for another living thing.
They are going to lie or cheat or steal…I know you don’t believe me. Still, when they do…and they will…give them consequences, real consequences that will hurt just enough to make them realize only assholes and politicians lie, cheat and steal. Hint, technology and the Internet has made this part of raising an adult so unbelievably easy…so much more power and efficacy than “You’re grounded!”
When they make mistakes, and you know they will because they are human, acknowledge that they messed up in a big way or a small way and move on. Make sure that they too acknowledge and accept their own fuck-ups. Don’t wallow in it. Just accept it, say you’re sorry, clean it up, leave it better than it was before.
Odds are high that they will move out and then ask to come back home…again…and again…and last time, I swear, again…or they will make some some of the worst choices ever that leave you with the debt on the loan you cosigned with them…or god only knows what else…just deal with it ..teaching them that this is part of being an adult…the really sucky part when you have to deal with the fallout of shitty stuff that isn’t even your problem. That’s life. That’s adulting.
Once again, accept the fact that they are likely to hate you as much as they love you…oh, and, yeah, you’re still an idiot who has no clue what you are doing. Again, remember that still. They’ll likely toss it back at you declaring that you, and no one else showed them how to adult. That will hurt. That will hurt hard. Take a deep breath and agree.
To be an adult, to adult, there will come the day where one must take on the responsibility for being an adult, figuring out how to be an adult without mom or dad…no matter how great or okayish or absent or downright shitty those parents were.
Including making the tough choices like Batman or Superman or what cereal to have for breakfast…you know, the really hard adult choices!
That day will come…I believe…I wish…I hope and pray. Even better, the day when that adult you tried your very best to raise will be confronted with the same crappy, shitty, painful truths of their own failings while trying to raise an adult. Me, I’ll smile (perhaps a little bit smugly) as I pat the spot on the Parenting Failure bench and invite them to sit next to me. Hopefully, we both can sit there together on that bench and give thanks that those adult-like humans we raised are not like Kanye…please, no.
Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands. — Anne Frank