No no no no no.
There is no reason – not one possible reason – why any young adult should need to attend classes on how to grow the heck up.
And yet – Adulting School is a real thing.
One of the important lessons people learn as they grow into adulthood is independence. Another great lesson is to ask for advice. Those are the big ones, and if they can learn those two, anything else they need to know is either an introspection or a question away.
I am not unsympathetic to the trials and tribulations of stumbling through the early years of being a grown-up. I told my kids – more often than they wanted to hear – that my early twenties were probably the most difficult years of my life. Creepy roommates, low pay for long hours, weekends with no plans, dates that were better forgotten than remembered, a crappy car…it wasn’t easy. But figuring it out for myself, with help from people I trusted, was as important to my self-esteem and self-reliance as the incremental and miniscule pay raises I got each year.
Parents, the really bad news about Adult School is that it’s our fault. You, me, parents everywhere. We coddled, indulged, applauded and raved about our children, to our children, around our children for so many years that these poor Millennials grew up expecting to be as fabulous and amazing as they heard they were, with trophies and juice boxes and sugar-free snacks just waiting for them everywhere they went. Now, as adults, they are shocked – and angry – that being a grown-up is hard work. And sometimes it’s boring. And sometimes it’s lonely and scary and disappointing. If they got into their first choice college, shouldn’t they get their first choice job? And why doesn’t that checking account balance itself? And how come the toilet isn’t clean? And the garbage…why isn’t it taken out?
They have been loved into stupidity.
If this is your child, your young adult toddling around like a newborn colt on shaky legs, waiting for a gentle nudge or help just standing up, don’t feel too badly about it. But for goodness sake, don’t send them to adult school, either! This just perpetuates the idea that there is a finish line for everything in life – and there isn’t. Growing up never ends, learning never stops, responsibilities never go away and self-reliance needs to be the primary goal for any young person – or old person, for that matter. Even if your young adult still needs financial help or emotional support or a room in your home, insisting on them taking care of themselves – with a little guidance here and there – is THE most important thing a parent can do. Do they need to learn to fold a fitted sheet? Find a YouTube video. Do they not quite understand the meaning of balancing a checkbook? Get them signed up for Mint. Are they feeling lonely? Give them your Netflix password.
Adult school should begin around the age of twelve, when our children begin to become, at least physically, adults. Taking care of themselves, being responsible for homework, feeding the dog, writing thank you notes, saying good morning – every little thing a child learns leads up to the adult he or she becomes. If a 24 year old needs to go to school to learn adulting basics, someone has failed her somewhere along the line, and that’s unfortunate.
Young adults – if you need advice, instruction, guidance, information, scolding, hand-holding, budget planning, or any other kind of help as you traverse the roads of real life, just ask someone. Those of us who have been there would be happy to help.