What do our children think when they look at us? They see stressed and tired adults with a never ending list of chores. They hear us apologising for having to stay late at work and complaining about our jobs. They are often aware when we are worried about money or our health. They hardly ever see us relaxing or having fun. They know that they are our number one priority and that our own needs are well down on the list.
Why would children ever want to grow up? No wonder they’re staying at home longer. No wonder they delay commitment and parenthood. From where they’re sitting, adulthood doesn’t look like something they should rush into.
Telling young people that childhood is the best time of their life is a pretty depressing message. Childhood is short. Adulthood is long. A far more positive message is to tell them that childhood is special and should not be hurried, but there is also a lot to look forward to.
How do we advertise adulthood? By telling our children why we enjoy our jobs – the intellectual stimulation, feeling valued, the people we meet, the money we earn. By letting them see us relax – leaving the chores while we have a cup of tea and read the paper, going out with friends during the week, watching our favourite TV show after they’ve gone to bed. Let them long to be old enough to enjoy the freedom and independence that comes with being an adult. Create a picture of adulthood that shows them there is much to be gained from working hard and there’s also plenty of time to relax and have fun.