Parents, Do You Have a Reluctant Adult?
We meet many parents who lament that their child lacks motivation, has not or is not performing to their ability level, procrastinates so much that it compromises their success. Assuming that the parents’ expectations are reasonable – this is not “Tiger Mom or Dad” – you might just have what I call “a reluctant adult.”
If you are familiar with the Meyers Briggs Personality Assessment (and if you’re not – look it up) you’ll know that 25% of the population are “P’s” – procrastinators who see a deadline as a place to begin. Two of my four sons are “P’s” and I can commiserate with you, it’s maddening, worrisome, and a huge source of conflict. In their case, during high school, their intelligence carried them successful so this didn’t bite them…but boy does it catch up with them in college! And of course, the work environment rewards their opposite – people who get things done. On time. Accurately and completely. So they’re in for a big surprise.
So how do you parent, motivate, and inspire your “reluctant adult”?
- Unfortunately, we can’t motivate; we can only inspire, coerce, and set expectations with consequences. Motivation comes from within the individual.
- Stay calm. Raging has no impact.
- Let them suffer the consequences. By middle school, I had established a rule of “no rescuing” if a lunch, homework, or project was forgotten. I would not run it over to the school. Keep increasing the expectation for responsibility and independence in an age-appropriate way.
- Never say (the equivalent of) “poor baby.” They’re leaving childhood and need to understand adult consequences. Let them experience them. If the coach benches your star athlete for being late to practice – even once – that’s ok. His rule. His consequence.
- Assuming that their behavior and actions are not putting them or others in harm’s way…what’s the worst thing that could happen? College applications are not submitted on time? No acceptance means no college. Bummer. Probably not ready to go anyway.
- Be realistic about the maturity level and emotional growth of your unique child. Does it seem like the girls are way ahead of the boys (having four sons myself)? Yeah – me too. Many are. Be realistic and yet continue to raise the bar little by little.
- Get professional help if you think you need it. A therapist or coach might be “heard” when mom or dad have been completely tuned out.
- Acknowledge that yes, this is MUCH harder parenting than toilet training or teaching your little one good manners. This is where the going gets tough, and the tough get going. Stay the course (which could last until the mid-twenties! Yikes!).