We have raised a Twixter generation
A recent article in Time Magazine went into great length analyzing an apparently new segment of twenty-somethings that simply refuses to grow up. Their moniker is “Twixter” because they are somewhere “betwixt” adolescence and adulthood and most of them don’t know the meaning of the word betwixt.Actually these Twixters are seemingly intelligent, college-educated young people who bounce from job to job, relationship to relationship, allowing mom and dad to support them while they drive nice cars and eat out, and sleep in their same old comfy bedroom. Our own parents would likely have had a different name for them: moochers.It’s interesting to note that while our parents pushed us out of the nest, flailing, at 18, we, in turn, are still gladly feeding our little birds well into their 20s. I’d wager a guess at the answer. Since some of us felt completely unprepared for adulthood when pushed from the nest, it seems we may be overcompensating by making sure our little darlings are more than ready. In our desire to fully prepare them for life, we have a teensy bit of a tendency to actually live it for them. Dr. Mel Levine would like to think there’s some middle ground for parents, and he’s written a book to help parents of young children better prepare them for the transition to adulthood (apparently it’s too late for anyone reading this who already has a Twixter mooching – I mean living – at home).Some of Levine’s ideas:Talk about the future. Encourage your kids to form some ideas of what they want to be when they grow up. It sounds like an outdated question, but kids need to think about their hopes for the future. They can change their minds 200 times, Levine says, but having only a foggy view of the future doesn’t bode well for it.Build your kids’ work skills. Teachers can teach them how to learn. You need to teach them how to work. Assign responsibilities around the house; make sure homework deadlines are met (start this early in their school career!) and encourage teens to baby-sit or take a part-time job.Place time limits on videos, television and music. Yes, music. Even the constant and monotonous beat of music from their IPod can discourage kids from getting up off the couch and doing other things. Video games encourage immediate gratification and, let’s face it, canned sitcom laughter is hardly social interaction. All of these can stunt their growth in communication and thinking skills – and detract from the kind of sustained concentration they’ll need for most jobs.Make sure childhood is not an impossible act to follow. Don’t overindulge with spectacular vacations, opulent material possessions and a relentless tide of after-school activities. And don’t over-inflate their egos. I’m all for self-esteem and instilling a sense of confidence in kids, but your child’s first boss won’t care how gorgeous he is or great he was on the ball field.Last but not least, show them how much fun it is to be adult. Model the kind of relationships and job fulfillment you would like them to have. After all, if we want them to grow up, we better show them it’s worth their while. Charla Belinski teaches the parenting course Redirecting Children’s Behavior. Her column appears every other Sunday in the Post Independent. Dr. Levine’s book is titled “Ready or Not Here Life Comes.”
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