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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Allowing a Son or Daughter to Crash & Burn

teens-facebookTo look at it, on the surface, our children are model individuals. They really don’t have that many bad points. Whether that may be attributed to the children, or to the parents, is hard to determine.

There are some kids who just go with the flow and live in harmony and do their best. We have one of those.

The others are more like bucking broncos. They do what you want… eventually… and possibly kicking their heels as they go.

If compared with certain acquaintances, or friends of friends, the picture looks good in comparison: they know this one who crashed the Happy teensJaguar twice in his first year of driving, the second time totalling it. Another acquaintance goes from rehab to rehab for drugs or alcohol. A younger acquaintance had three of her fourteen-year-old friends killed in a car crash over the holidays while on a 3:00 am joyride.

Thank the Lord, ours don’t have these problems or issues. But then they have me breathing down their necks 24/7, or 25/8, if we want to be exact. Our concerns are much more innocuous, which could lull one into careless complacency, but here it is….

The younger three refuse to prepare for their future. At all.

They will not study nor prepare for the SAT exam. Hence, the middle two took it this year, in their senior year, for the first time. They performed abysmally.

sat-testingIt didn’t phase them in the least.

I take the hard-guy approach. Next, I take the kind-and-understanding friend approach. Neither one works.

“Not taking it again,” the daughter says. “No way, no how.”

I have less concerns about our second son’s performance, since he has quite a bit of artistic talent. The daughter, on the other hand, could make the time to study, yet she doesn’t.

I speak with her about young peoples’ normal concerns for their futures. I let her know that it’s okay to be nervous or scared, but we must still forge forward in life. A moving ship can be directed.

It falls on deaf ears.

I’ve encouraged her to find outside interests, to learn a skill, to take up a hobby. She could study a musical instrument, pursue more of our codealready-started foreign languages, learn to write computer code, try her hand at knitting.

Nope. Not interested. Busy painting her fingernails.

She’s 18.5.


The problem is, she wants me to do everything for her. She has zero self-initiative. She lives in a cozy cocoon, a bubble of blindness and dares anyone to ask her a question about her future.

“Don’t know. Haven’t decided. Thinking about it.”

That, I doubt.

I’m not the kind of parent who feels that a young person necessarily needs her entire future planned out from start to finish. At this point, I should probably just focus on myself and call it a day.

summerjobYet I find myself encouraging her (and the others) toward bettering themselves, being their own personal best.

They’re not interested. Not in the least.

So what do you think? Should a parent allow their kids to crash and burn their future, to fail to prepare and prepare to fail?

It’s been said that one will learn when one is ready to learn. I wonder why my kids can’t be more like Abraham Lincoln and have a thirst for learning. I consider the fact that they may feel overwhelmed by their parents’ examples of multi-tasking and excellence in a variety of spheres and endeavors. But ultimately, unless I hand them their next task on a silver platter, they cannot conceive nor conjure up any idea of what to do.

In the past, we’ve gotten them summer jobs. I coached this same daughter through four months this fall of attempting to apply for a volunteer position, but there were failed connections both on her part and on the part of the non-profit’s disorganized staff. I find that, unless I do everything for her, very little gets done.

Push and pull, push and pull. It’s beginning to take its toll on me.

Every time, I say never again to using my connections, my research abilities, my helping hand, only to be met with a lukewarm, charlie-brown-kickhalfhearted, ho-hum reception, while telling half the world that by their sheer brilliance, they accomplished this or that. No thanks to me. However, the lack of gratitude does not concern me as much as the self-deception, the constant overrating of their own abilities, while being able to accomplish virtually nothing on their own.

Not that I’m going to mention such things, since I agree with having a positive self-image. Nonetheless, when it comes time for them to make any type of decisive move on their own, they freeze. Where is the autonomy or initiative?

Yet, like Charlie Brown with Lucy and the football, I’m trying again. This time, I will not help them individually, I’m lumping all of our kids together in one big volunteer opportunity. It’s with a lobbying and advocacy group, raising awareness about an issue that is near and dear to their hearts. Our eldest doesn’t need anything extra but he’s game to be a part, ready to volunteer on a once-or-twice-a-month basis.

oatwebimageWho knows? Maybe something will rub off on them in a swank, downtown office setting where their workday will begin at 7:30 am.

Welcome to the real world.

They just might enjoy it.

Here’s hoping.


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