Somewhere, somehow, as parents we lost something. We lost something very important to our childrens’ futures.

Too many teenagers today are no longer inspired to achieve, they think work is a bad four letter word. They don’t have the hopes and dreams that we did. They do not respect their elders anymore, and see their parents as slaves.

Before you defend your ‘Johnny’, there are incredible exceptions, there are teenagers who are an inspiration to us all, but sadly they are in a very small minority. The high percentage of poorly motivated teens, becomes even more obvious in the lower income, or lesser educated, socio-economic brackets.

A cultural shift happened and we were so busy giving our kids a childhood, that we stopped doing our primary function as parents, helping them grow into adults and be independent.

What do you think would happen in nature if Eagle parents stopped encouraging their fledglings to fly? If those feathered parents protected the rights of their eaglets to remain children much longer, and kept them safely tied to the nest? Eagle populations would decline, parents would die exhausted from trying to supply enough food for their young adults, cleaning the nests would be impossible, overcrowding and eventually a weakening of the species with disease.

The first responsibility of any parent is to slowly, and without trauma, teach their fledglings the ability and desire to function as responsible adults. The second responsibility, is regardless of the circumstances of that parent, to inspire their children to dream – to want to achieve those dreams, and to do everything to encourage their children to fly.

Where did we lose it? Somewhere in the last two decades the western developed world changed. In an effort to curb child abuse, we went way too far! We stopped being parents, and started to become slaves to our children and giving them everything possible, whilst asking nothing in return. The developing countries did not, because they could not. It is indeed fortunate that we have not yet been able to replicate this insane parental paradigm onto the third world, or we would have an international disaster the size of which is unimaginable!

There is a difference between child abuse and child disciplines and responsibility. This has been often lost in modern parenting. Further consequences, are sometimes the lesson needed to help a child understand that what they are doing is wrong, or dangerous. The three times and you are out philosophy. After a warning, and a reprimand, there needs to be action if a child willfully continues to misbehave. This may be sending them to their room, or removing a pleasure like internet for a day, but it must be something that works.

There is a huge negative impact on children, and their parents, of overprotection and pandering to their every desire. As the children get older, into their late teens this becomes even more burdensome for parents, as demands increase, and behavior is very hard to change.

What I see happening in Western Europe is astonishing. A lot of children stay without responsibility far too long, and remain living at home being dependant upon parents. Often the parents also have full time jobs, but are catering to their adult childrens every whim. These ‘children’ I am meeting, in hundreds of situations, are between 18 and 30 years old, and their mothers are washing, ironing, cooking hot meals, serving breakfasts, making beds, cleaning bedrooms, and more. Driving a shuttle service for the ones that do not have a car, or a license, because they cannot plan.

Worse though, many of these ‘children’ do not appreciate any of it, they believe it to be their right. Some of them have no job, others have jobs where they earn as much money as their mother, or father , but pay no fee to stay at home. I frequently hear of situations where the ‘child’ is telling the parent – ‘You may do nothing, or I will call a welfare agency or the police’ Some parents and teachers have admitted to me they are intimidated.

In Europe, this is not helped by the most extraordinary set of laws surrounding young people, supposedly to protect them. Although at 18 they receive all the rights of an adult: they may borrow money, gamble, vote, join the armed forces, marry, sign contracts – their parents are still responsible for them whilst ever they live at home! This means that if a young man of say 25, gets drunk and kills someone with his car, that his parents may have to sell all their assets to pay for his misdemeanor, even though they had no authority to stop him. Or as in the case of a friend of mine, her daughter did not pay her insurance and the sheriff arrived and began to note down my friends assets, as her daughter lived at home, it would be her mothers things that would be taken to pay the debt!

I have clients who are in desperate situations because of their young adults irresponsibility, and with no protection for the rest of the family. Stories abound of having to sell everything, including the other childrens possessions, because a 'child' over the age of 21 has done something wrong, and refuses to resolve the situation or take responsibility. This is beginning to create a fairly onerous social problem in families in my community. Some parents are facing very difficult times when they had planned to be getting ready for retirement, and this has nothing to do with the economy!

I also have a clients who struggle to make ends meet, whilst their 26 year old live at home son, has a good job and earns the same money as his Father, drives a BMW Cabrio and buys his girlfriend expensive gifts. The parents really believe that society will not think well of them if they ask this boy to move out, or to pay a more realistic share of expenses. They have two other children, and one is disabled. They are not a social case, they are intelligent and kind people, but they feel caught in a system of judgement.

To give children, or adults, rights without responsibility associated is wrong! To allow actions without teaching our children that every action has a consequence good or bad is wrong!

It is up to individual parents to challenge the current paradigm, to find their own lives and not be throttling back their children from growing into responsible adults. I know parents who have taken this responsibility, at the same time as inspiring their children to grow and blossom and have gorgeous children, grown into young adults and achieving amazing things!

We must, as responsible parents, teach our children the value of a good work ethic, the benefit of dreaming and planning to realize those dreams, encouragement to do well academically for those who can, and have the courage to assist those who are not so academically gifted to find good, honest occupations as soon as they can leave school. We must teach our children the dignity of independence, they should be able to take care of themselves, thus have learnt the basics of cooking, laundry, basic first aid, cleaning, how to manage their pay and budget, how to read a contract and borrow money, how to manage a credit card. We should also ensure we have taught them good social skills, and the basics of good manners, if we want them to have good self esteem and be well received in the community.

So instead of pandering to their laziness, inspire your children to dream, and whilst they are dreaming to find their independence and strength as responsible community citizens. This can even be fun as you grow together with your child of whom you are proud, and he or she is incredibly empowered to be all they can be. Don’t take this shared joy away from your relationship with your children.

In my experience, the parents who became slaves remained so, and were not respected and admired by their children, at any time. The parents who took a more responsible parental approach from an early age, enjoy respectful and close adult relationships filled with mutual respect.

As parents, you also have a right to a happy, independant life once you have provided for your childrens needs and a sound education matched to their ability and ambition. Do not be afraid there will be a gap, this space will be filled by discovering personal interests, and seeing your children achieving a new life.

As a parent, it really is up to you – Be an Inspiration to your Children, Not a Slave!

Author's Bio: 

Terrie Anderson is a human potential and transformational leadership coach, dynamic public speaker and author of The Little Red Success Book. She is a specialist in transformational leadership, and how to be a successful and happy human being.

Terrie has a dream to touch the lives of at least one million children with a positive message either directly, or through parents, carers and teachers. She believes the future of the world can be transformed through inspirational guidance when young.
She has had a successful corporate career, she understands the challenges of family life, and enjoys helping people open their minds to new ideas and concepts that generate happiness, and success, in both work and family.

She is also the CEO and Co-Founder of Easy Online Portals, an internet marketing company and the creator of The Essence of Truly Great Leadership, a course in transformational leadership. She is an incredibly passionate and positive person, who is passionate about the environment and nature, loves animals, riding motorbikes, travelling, and meeting new people and cultures. She also enjoys good food, music, laughter and great wines.