Thursday, April 12, 2007

Kicking Them Out of the Nest

I was chatting last night at a girl's nite out dinner with a friend who's daughter is in high school. We were talking about college, specifically the benefits of going away to school vs staying home and going to a local college. I was a little surprised at how strongly I feel about some of these issues. Of course, it's easy for me to say, as my kids are 7 and 9, but I really think I'll stick to it. We've actually already discussed some of this in my house, so here is my advice to my sons:

1. Go away to school if you're going to study. Move at least 2 hours away to a mainly residential school and live in the dorm. It is a great transition from home to real life. Plus there's always a party. If you're in college, you're allowed to come home for the summer and hang out. Also, you can live here the summer after you graduate. But only the summer.

2. If you're not going to college (although you'd better go to college), you have until September after your senior year in high school to get it together and move out of my house. Get an apartment with some roommates and a nice job and we'll see you for dinner on Sunday. Yes, you can bring your laundry.

3. In college, take a year abroad. This is the best, cheapest and most authentic way to discover other cultures. I lived in Scotland for a year (because I stink at languages and had to go to an English speaking country) and traveled around Britain and Italy mostly by myself. It was probably the most formative year of my life. Youth Hostels are your friends.

4. After college, go and live in a big city. It can be any city except LA. New York, Chicago, Boston, even San Francisco(although that is a little close, but maybe DH and I will have retired to the islands by then) all count.

There seems to be a big trend for kids to stay at home well into their 20's and I don't think it's good for them or any of us. Our job as parents is to raise competent, caring adults and most of that involves pushing them further and further away. We've already taken away most of their decision making power by not allowing them out without a leash to explore on their own, and I think that is a tragedy. Kid's need to have a soft place to land, but there's no point to that if they're not going to launch in the first place.

Of course, being that I'm tossing this advice to them, my kids will probably end up ultra right-wing conservatives living in a tiny town somewhere and cursing foreigners. At least they won't be living in my house while they do it.

On this date: In 1861 the Civil War began.


Linda D. said...

Interesting ... we've always said once you're an adult, you are still welcome to still live with us but there are rules to follow. If you're in school, by all means sponge off us a little longer so you can focus on grades rather than trying to juggle work and school.

If you take a year off, or decide not to go to University, you may still live with us, but you'll be paying rent. And it will increase exponentially each year.

That's the only thing we've got figured out so far.

Robin L said...

Hm. I find this especially interesting since both my sons are going off to college thsi fall, one a senior in high school and the other as a transfer student.

I highly agree with #1, the full immersion in the dorm life experience is really valuable in forming friendships in college. I also really agree with #3. #2 I think depends on where one lives and the cost of living in the area. Even with roomates, the COL in our area can be mind numbingly prohibitive.

As for #4, of course now I'm dying to know why NOT LA? And some people really just aren't suited to cities, I think. For example, I fully expect Number Two Son to live in a city, but Number One son would hate and feel claustrophobic. Or paranoid. Severly uncomfortable. I think as long as they live somewhere other than their hometown, they're good.

cynjay said...

Linda, you are a lot nicer than I am.

Robin, not LA because LA isn't a real city. It is a tangle of freeways in search of a city. I grew up in Southern California so I'm allowed to say that. Okay, I think both of my kids would get a lot out of living in a big city for awhile, but I see your point. In other circumstances, I would ammend my rules to include not living in your hometown, but not necessarily in a big city if your constitution won't allow it.