I’ve been researching, studying, and writing about parenting for several years now, and the other day I was taken by surprise by something new.
I had never heard the term before. I discovered that it’s used by young adults to mean learning to do things adults need to do to manage their lives, life skills that weren’t passed on to them when they were young. There are actually courses for millennials to teach them these skills—“make-up classes” for kids who, now that they’re out in the real world, have realized they aren’t prepared to be adults. After a group how-to class, they go home, make themselves dinner, and then tweet about it, #adulting.
Being a life-challenged twenty-something isn’t a modern phenomenon. Half a century ago, when I was about to graduate from college, I dated a young woman who told me she knew nothing about cooking. She had never cooked anything in her life. This, in spite of the fact that her mother was a gourmet cook. It has always been true that many parents have felt it’s their job to do everything for their kids. Back in the day we called it “spoiling your kids.” Today we call it “over-parenting.”
Over-parenting was never universal. Then and now, many parents expect their kids to do for themselves what they’re capable of doing. They assign chores and give gradually increasing responsibilities to contribute to the family enterprise. They coach their kids on etiquette and money management, teach them how to use tools, explain hygiene and nutrition, encourage them to participate in sports to build physical fitness, and so on. There have always been parents who buy into the concept that it’s not about raising kids. It’s about raising adults. So when it’s time for their children to leave home, they’re ready.
So this new “adulting” trend was inevitable. Kids who grow up dependent and without life skills don’t know how hard it’s going to be to create a life for themselves; but eventually, they realize there’s a lot they need to know but never learned.
Still don’t believe me that “adulting” is really happening? Check this out:
A book about it! Adulting: How to Become a Grown-up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps
NPR has noticed: Adulting School Teaches Young Adults Grown-up Skills
From Cosmopolitan: Kindly Shut the Hell Up about “Adulting”
In a way, it’s sad. But hey, the kids are trying!
Moms and dads, teach your kids what you know. Get them in the habit of doing for themselves, practicing life skills. Start as early as possible to prepare them for the inevitable challenges of adult life.