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When the Oldest Child Grows Up

Posted Aug 25 2008 3:36pm

This is a big year for my oldest son, Dylan . . . and me. He turned 18 about six weeks ago, he’ll be graduating from high school in less than 4 months, and he’ll be starting college in the fall. In fact, he just got accepted at his first-choice university. We’re thrilled! But I can’t decide how thrilled I am about him growing up. It’s exciting, and yet scary.

All of a sudden, I’m starting to wonder if I’ve prepared him well enough for the “real world.” I always thought I had plenty of time. Now, all of a sudden, time is running out. Should I have taught him more about earning and managing money, about taking care of a household, about car repairs? Most definitely, yes, to all three! On the other hand, would he have listened? Probably not. I guess there are a lot of things that he’ll just have to learn on his own, just as I did. I don’t remember my parents teaching me how to do the grocery shopping, pay the bills, get stains out of the laundry, or fix the car. I just learned as I went along. Sure, I made plenty of mistakes, but the lessons probably sank in better than if I’d heard them in the form of a lecture from my parents. So, maybe, I haven’t done such a lousy job with my son as I had feared. If I survived the launch into adulthood, I’m sure he will, too!

Like me, he is an “oldest child.” Oldest children have the disadvantage of being the product of their parents’ on-the-job training. I’m sure my parents made a lot of mistakes with me, and had it a little bit easier with my sister because they’d learned a great deal from how they handled things in my life. And, I suspect, the same will be true for me and my kids. Hopefully, my younger children will have the benefit of the wisdom I gained in raising their oldest brother. I’m probably a little more relaxed with my younger kids, and hopefully it will be the same when it’s their turn to turn 18 and head off to college.

So, thank you, Dylan, for being my experimental child . . . for allowing me to make mistakes so I could be a better parent! Hopefully, I didn’t mess you up too badly. From what I’ve seen so far, you’ve turned out to be an amazing guy!

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adulthood , birth order , college , experience , graduation , mistakes , parenting , university

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