For a moment, imagine yourself wearing a diaper and crawling around the kitchen floor while trying to pick up a bug with your pinkie. This is how your parents see you.
Unfortunately, altering this mindset is not easy. Parents tend to operate on a point system. What this essentially means is that for every responsible thing you do, you get 1 point, but for every bad thing you do, you lose five points.
Your goal is to conduct yourself in such a fashion that over time you accrue enough points that your parents see you as you actually are – a young man or woman.
Simple things such as taking out the trash, washing dishes, and keeping the family pets watered and fed are great starts; however, to truly establish yourself as an independent, capable individual, you must take a step back and attempt to empathize with your parents.
As monumental as it may seem to you, completing daily chores is not something your parents are likely to laud as an achievement. Keep in mind that these people have been doing chores longer than you’ve been alive. In order to really open their eyes, you have to make a commitment to yourself. This commitment requires that you begin accepting responsibility for your behavior, your finances, and your future.
I recommend that you don’t blatantly announce that you have made this commitment. Since you’ve been able to talk, your parents have heard you make numerous claims and grandiose assertions before. By slowly incorporating new habits and behaviors into your life, you won’t be under any pressure to “practice what you preach.”
Before doing anything else, independently institute your own method of letting your parents know where you are at all times. So many good kids maintain such an impeccable record that they eventually believe they are exempt from touching base with their parents. You may think that they know you are staying after school, but for all they know you could have been in a car accident. Text messages are great for this since they allow spur of the moment changes of plans, but, if you do not use a cell phone, a dry-erase board on the refrigerator should display all of your after school plans and upcoming obligations.
Got it? Great. Here’s how you can get started:
- Go to bed earlier and wake up on time.
- Beat your parents to the punch by completing things before they even think to ask you to do them.
- Consistently ask your parents to study with you and keep them updated on your progress. Even if you do poorly on an assignment or test, your parents will appreciate your candor; this is especially true if your parents helped you prepare because they can clearly see that you’re trying your best.
- Find some means, however small, to create your own income. Even if you only make enough money to put gas in your car each week, your parents will notice your effort and reward you accordingly.
- Open your own bank account. Your parents can still deposit money into your account if they have your account number and you can get a checking account free.
As you can tell, the primary way of proving yourself to your parents is by achieving consistency and maintaining a personal level of accountability. The erratic behavior of most teens gives parents every right to maintain a short leash on them. By eradicating the inconsistencies from your life, you will obliterate these predispositions.
Here are a few more advanced ways to eviscerate you umbilical cord:
- Keep a daily planner. It does not have to be anything expensive; a cheap spiral notebook is more than enough.
- Pay for your own car insurance.
- Pay for your cell phone.
- Buy your parents gifts on mother’s day, father’s day, birthdays, and any other holiday which you celebrate. Adults buy each other gifts whether they want to or not. If you do not have any money, give your parents what they want most – your time.
- Fill out all of your own forms. Whether it is for the FAFSA, SAT, ACT, whatever, take care of it yourself.
- Enjoy alcohol and tobacco in moderation or not at all, depending on your parents’ tastes. If you’re underage, don’t use either.
For some of you, this will be more difficult than others. But I assure you that if you hold up your side of the bargain by fulfilling all or most of the above, your parents will hold up theirs.