Move over childhood obesity; we’ve got bigger problems

Even though the economy isn’t cooperating with many of their career choices, the parents of young adults are confident they will find their way.

But there are many adult children not quite ready for prime time, and it doesn’t appear they will be any time soon. I use the term ‘adult children’ for those kids that have gotten older, but have not necessarily grown up.

To see if this term applies to your child, see if you recognize any of these traits:

  1. Inadequate social skills; eye contact, shaking hands, or the art of conversation
  2. Poor work ethic – they don’t get it that the first rule of business is showing up
  3. Little desire to use their education or learn anything new unless it is promoted by popular culture
  4. They lack confidence, though ironically have a sense of entitlement
  5. No sense of responsibility or accountability

It would be easy to write about the cause and how to prevent it, but I want to take on the greater challenge of how to fix adult children. 

One of the best ways to teach social skills is to model them.  A good way to do that is making family dinners together a priority without the interference of technology.  

Occasionally invite dinner guests with diverse backgrounds encouraging stimulating conversation. Get subscriptions to newspapers and magazines such as Time or Newsweek and discuss current events. Remember the intention is about building up, not tearing down, so their messy room is not a good dinner topic. 

Does your adult child have a job?  If so, don’t feed their excuses as to why this job isn’t right for them, and don’t bail them out financially.  If they want something, they have to work for it.  That includes car insurance, cell phone bills, gas money, movies, clothes, anything!  Explain there is a difference between finding your passion and paying your bills.  

Doing something well and feeling confident is a great way to boost self-esteem.  It could be a hobby or volunteer work, which would put them on the giving end for a change.

One of our roles as parents is to have our children contribute first to the household, and then to society. Identify household jobs and hold them accountable to do them.  The vast majority of people would like to live in a clean home.  If your child is the cause of the mess, take several very large, black heavy duty garbage bags, load up and toss.  You should only have to do that once.

Though adult children need to take ownership of their lives, they still might need your help in getting there, no different than if your child was ill.  It’s challenging, but hang in there. 

For those of you with younger children, begin with the end in mind, best illustrated by a wonderful Jesse Jackson quote;

“Your children need your presence more than your presents.”

Have a safe, healthy and Happy New Year!

Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®

3 Responses to “Move over childhood obesity; we’ve got bigger problems”

  1. My kids are still young, but I think a lot about how to help them move toward long-term success. The challenges with adult children who are stuck in a rut seem daunting, but hopefully principle-based parenting will still win in the end!

    On a different note, I wonder what it would look like to have adult children think through what their ideal friend/child/employee would be like. But maybe that’s a stretch if it’s coming as a suggestion from the parents…

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Karen Van Cott says:

      One thing I find with parents today is that they feel sorry for their children, what is to feel sorry for especially if they have a wonderful home, plenty of food and a roof over their heads. Just be a parent, not a friend and certainly don’t overcompensate if you know you are doing the best you can.


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