Young-adult Parenting Tip #42

I feel certain that there are at least 41 others out there, if not 141 others.

Never co-sign anything for your left-the-nest child.

I realize not all parents would agree with me. Several years ago, apparently I would not have agreed with me. But now stampeding horses couldn’t make me.

Imagine I stand face to muzzle with this thundering herd, (photographed by Frank Staub,) with Child 1 whining, “But Mooo-ooom, how can I get to work without a car?” Parents, I say “HOLD YOUR GROUND.” Just say no.

What is the worst that could happen? Child 1 might indeed lose his or her job. They could then come home (honestly a much cheaper and less stressful alternative, whatever you might fear now!) and look for work in walking distance, or chauffeuring distance, or even on a route with mass transportation. In the meantime they eat and sleep under a roof. There is hope of eventually saving for that car. OR Child 1 might elect to live on friends’ sofas and bum rides off of them, or even take to a cardboard box on the street. Admittedly, this is the threatened scenario that led me to the co-signatory regrets I currently endure. But I have come to the conclusion that this is not likely to be a long-term result, seeing as how it is self-imposed. That nasty liver almost sounds appetizing after a couple of days of not eating, and I suspect the old homestead couldn’t be as dreadful as it first seems after Child 1 hits the streets. But the key here is LESSON LEARNED. This co-signing disaster just threatens OUR credit on a semi-regular basis without teaching that child much beyond discouragement and shame.

So my thinking now goes like this: when you were a little whippersnapper, Child 1, I let you take your falls, make mistakes, and experience your own consequences. You sometimes took a while to really absorb those lessons, but they were the only way you truly learned anything significant. Yes, the consequences now may be a lot bigger, but the way you learn hasn’t changed. You need to work out how to live grown-up on your own, and I’ll advise and cheer and console along the way. The only safety net offered is our home. Deal?