Author and former freshman dean of Stanford University, Julie Lythcott-Haims, has written a book How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success, to document her experience and help parents reprioritize and refocus.
Here is the basic breakdown.
“These are the two best things that each of us can do for our kids to help them become successful adults:
1 – Give them chores.
2 – Teach them to love.”
Isn’t that great? Here is the research she uses to back it all up…
“The longitudinal “Harvard Grant Study” (one of the longest studies of humans ever conducted) found that success in life comes from having done chores as a kid. The earlier the kid started, the better. When our kids are too busy to do chores, we eliminate the biggest factor for success. The Harvard Grant study also found that happiness in life equals LOVE. Not passion, LOVE. Love of people and love of human experience. If there’s anything that we can do for our kids, it’s to teach them compassion, work ethic, and the love that can be found at home.”
This is the best parenting news yet! We already love them pretty hard!
Now we just have to make them do a little work around the house!!
The primary task of the teen years is for your teen to learn how to be an adult while still in a safe, nurturing environment. It’s the time when they should try adult skills and tasks and have an opportunity to fail, to try again, and to ultimately master that task. Let’s be honest. We’ve got the safe nurturing environment thing down. We do for our kids for so long, it’s hard for them and us to make the transition to them doing for themselves. We say. “Their job is to work hard in school”, or “they play a travel sport, they have no time for the extras”, or “I just want them to be a kid and enjoy life while they can”. All are great sentiments, but none prepare them for adult life. Not a single one of us focusing on just one job. We work, raise a family, do everyone’s laundry, shop for and prepare all of the meals, all the while planning how we are going to pay for braces, college and maybe a wedding someday. It is a disservice to your teen to let them believe doing one job really well is enough. They are going to be expected to do all of the jobs someday.
Teach them to cook one complete meal. Show them how to read the menu, write the grocery list and then go to the store and purchase the supplies for that dinner. They will become a master of that one meal. During the busy school year you can even call home and say, “Hey, can you whip up your meal tonight, I’ll stay at work an extra half an hour”!
Have them run their own laundry from start to finish. If they run out of clean shorts, direct them to run a load of laundry. If the dryer is full of unfolded clothes you haven’t gotten to, they can fold it and put it away. They will find a dryer full of unfolded clothes that belong to someone else their entire lives! Might as well get them used it now.
Leave them a chore list. They will hate your guts for it. There is nothing more annoying as a teen than to wake up at noon, think you have the whole day to yourself and find a chore list waiting! But, hey, isn’t that the story of your life? Don’t you wake up every day at 5:45 and have a day’s worth of tasks waiting? I’m not saying every single day they should be scrubbing grout in the bathroom or washing second floor windows, but one hour’s worth of sweeping or loading the dishwasher is a gentle reminder that the day to day tasks will become their day to day tasks.
Your teens do work hard all year. They do wake up early and get good grades. They do play sports more intensely than our generation did, but they are all going to grow up into adults with adult responsibilities. Teach them not only how to cook or how to do laundry, but teach them that cooking and laundry are jobs that every adult must do. The better they are at managing those basic tasks, the more time they have later in life to enjoy all of the rewards you want them to have now. Staying on top of their day to day lives allows your young adults to have hobbies, travel, and build a relationship and a career!
They can have it all later, because they learn to manage life now!!
What are you assigning your teen to do today?