Thursday, March 2, 2017

If you love them, let them go.

On Facebook today, an acquaintance shared that his daughter who is college-bound soon told him that she’s thinking of going to a college near home instead of far away so that she can be close to them. While most of those who commented on the post praised the girl for her filial piety (much valued in Asian families) I feel that parents should really encourage their kids to go away for their further studies. It’s a first step in their journey towards adulthood and it’s a great time to learn how to be a grown up.

I remember when my son, B, was considering colleges. I totally encouraged him to go to another country, even though it would have been more convenient, not to mention cheaper, for him to further his studies close to home.  I myself went to college halfway around the world. Not only did I have to adjust to a whole new way of life but I had to also do everything myself. I opened a bank account, found a part time job and had to manage my own finances.

After a year in university housing, I shared an apartment with friends and had to budget and cook for myself, not to mention do housework and laundry. I had to make my own travel plans during the holidays and look after myself when I fell sick. This was before the advent of the internet and free phone calls, so I had no Mom to Dad to turn to for instant advice or a quick loan.

B also had to learn how to fend for himself in his years away from home. From someone who turned his nose up at eating leftovers in the house, he became very appreciative of home-cooked food. He would ask me for recipes and then improvise his own. He, too, made his own travel plans and found ways to finance his travels.

Far too many young people nowadays are staying at home with their parents and refusing to leave, even when they start working. Why should they, when life is so comfortable? Mom provides all meals and laundry service. Dad’s car can be borrowed (or parents buy their offspring a vehicle of their own). Some parents even fetch their kids around. With free board and lodging, these young people never learn to stand on their own two feet. Worse yet, the parents have to keep working way past their retirement age just to support these loafers.

We can laugh at these “boomerang” kids and movies like “Failure to launch” but the reality is that way too many young people are taking the easy way out by never leaving home. Yes, it’s tough to get by on a fresh graduate’s salary, but no one said you have to stay in a nice apartment and get a nice car when you start working. There’s public transportation. And shared housing.There’s no need for gym memberships. Or daily frappuccinos.

I think it’s good for young people to live away from their families, as early as college. They learn to fend for themselves in more ways than one, and these life skills stay with them forever. They also learn to appreciate the comforts of home and their parents who have sacrificed so much for them. Sure, parents worry that their kids can get into trouble away from home, but it’s also a great time of self exploration and awareness. Trust me, send your kids away and they’ll return more loving and appreciative of you.

1 comment: