So I hear congratulations are in order. Your young-adult child has managed to pull a maneuver at once so suave, so foolhardy, so dangerous, so. . . .stupid, that he is in the running for winning our Stupid Young-Adult Child Tricks Contest. The question is, now that your kids have yanked your chain, made a fool of you, and–most likely–cost you a pretty penny, what are you going to do about your children’s’ behavior so that they never get a chance to be in the running for this contest again? My guess is, if push comes to shove, that every parent knows how to deal with scenarios like these. The problem I encounter is that parents don’t want to take the requisite steps to avoid a repeat occurrence. But, parents, letting a young adult learn from experience trumps most college educations.
Stupid Young-Adult Child Trick #1 Ah, the child who ‘treated’ his posse of friends to a concert on your credit card, under the guise that all would be repaid. My hope is that, at the same time as you see the bill for the unpaid concert tickets, you have also seen the error of your ways. There will come a time again when your child will approach you with a request for your credit card number that will seem reasonable: to purchase plane tickets for which they will reimburse you, to cover the maintenance on the family car they use, to pay for their grad school books directly instead of being reimbursed. If you ever–ever–give out your credit card number to your young-adult child again, you imply that you don’t mind being played for the fool, like taking chances with your credit, and are not worried about your child’s own sense of responsibility. From now on every fee you agree to cover for your child should come to you in the form of a receipt–your child has already paid the bill, and you will now reimburse as appropriate, with a check. My guess? Concert tickets for 14 of your son’s favorite friends won’t be among the reimbursable items.
Stupid Young-Adult Child Trick #2 The second one is easy. You are Kary’s parents, and, if you decide to let him live after his near-death experience, your path is pretty clear. Ideas before I solve this one for good? Sell that boat. It’s true that it seems a shame that your child’s risk-taking behavior should mean that you and your close family and friends lose a source of such joy in your life. It’s also true that it would be more ideal if Kary grew up after his hours treading in Lake Michigan’s quiet and cold waters. But the thing about young adults is that you never quite know whether they’ve learned their lesson until they’re more mature. So yes, you enjoyed your boat and your skiing, you took your friends out on the Fourth of July, you had family get-togethers on it, you and your husband loved racing across the waves. Weigh that enjoyment against the lives of your child and his friends. I think you will agree with me that you have one good option: Sell that boat.
Stupid Young-Adult Child Trick #3You can consider purchasing another one when your son is, say. . .50.
So, against my advice (and your snotty older daughter’s, as well), you decided that your daughter Jessica deserved that exquisite “college experience,” even though she didn’t believe in attending classes in high school, had a marked disinterest in anything academic, muddled her way through English class by calling on afore-mentioned daughter’s skills and through math by always dating some handsome young man with an affinity for “x’s” and “y’s” and theorems, and only succeeded in getting in college at all, most likely, due to Ms. Snot’s excellent work on the college essay. And not just any college experience, did she deserve, but one at an expensive (and markedly mediocre, if your older daughter is to be attended to again) private college you could ill afford, and had to take out large loans to make happen. So she thought copying and, well, adapting an essay off the Internet and passing it off as her own was a good idea? Let’s just be clear. She will never–as in the never ever kind of never—be having her “college experience” again on your dime.
Want to prevent Jess from having a go at winning another “Stupid Young-Adult Child Trick,” at least in this arena? I’m open to your suggestions; here are mine: Jess will return home the day following her expulsion for plagiarizing. Return home, not to some apartment, not to live with a roommate, not to camp out with a friend. Once there she will quickly take a job–you should give her a time limit here–any job. We’re not worried now about furthering her career aspirations. Working full-time in that job and hand ing over the funds above her living expenses, which she is in charge of, to you, will assist you in repaying the loan you took out for her experiment.
Then you need to assess how badly indebted you are, for you do, indeed, want your daughter to get a college education. After a reasonable amount of repayment on her part, she might choose to save up her earnings for tuition at the community college. When she enrolls, she should probably drop some of her hours, but continue to work enough so that she can foot the bill for her education. I can assure you that this “college experience” will teach your daughter more than her fantasy one would have done–and it can all be accomplished without screaming, guilting, reprimanding, or carrying on. In fact, this college experience will teach her many things, and one of them is an intangible–how not to be a contestant again in the Stupid Young-Adult Tricks competition. In fact, if you as parents follow through with a firm approach after your child’s near-win in this contest, maybe even giving up some of your dreams and fantasies in the process, seems like the next time there are young-adults in the running for winning Stupid Young-Adult Children Tricks–they surely won’t be your own.