‘Adulting,’ Pope Francis, and why you should teach your son to iron

     (<a href='http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-315312359/stock-photo-man-ironing-a-shirt.html'>Young man ironing</a> image courtesy of Shutterstock.com)

    (Young man ironing image courtesy of Shutterstock.com)

    As a Catholic, I had many moments of prayerful reflection, reverence, and emotion during Pope Francis’ visit to Philly, but there was only one moment in the whole weekend that had me jump off the couch and holler “Amen!”

    As a Catholic, I had many moments of prayerful reflection, reverence, and emotion during Pope Francis’ visit to Philly, as I watched him live out Christ’s message of love and tolerance. I prayed along during the Masses, when I wasn’t choking back tears, and hugged as many nuns as I could.

    But there was only one Francis moment in the whole weekend that had me jump off the couch and holler “Amen!” like it was Sunday morning at Ebenezer Baptist. It happened during the pontiff’s visit to his brother priests, seminarians and bishops at St. Charles Borromeo

    “In Buenos Aires, mothers say to me, ‘My son is 34, and he’s not getting married. I don’t know what to do.’ So I tell them, ‘Don’t iron his shirts anymore.'” Francis went on to elaborate on how parents and clergy should be encouraging young people to get out and take the risks associated with adulthood, most especially by getting married.

    In other words, parents, even the pope thinks it’s time for you to stop babying your grown sons and send them out into the world to become men. And young men and women, it’s time for you to stop acting like overgrown babies and get busy with the adulting. 

    “Adulting,” in its unironic social media parlance, means engaging in behaviors a young adult still likely associates with his or her parents: paying bills, dealing with paperwork, getting a mortgage, successfully folding a fitted sheet. In its ironic sense, it’s everything stupid and annoying we associate with adulthood: Paying bills, folding fitted sheets, getting a mortgage. 

    Scheduled my own dentist appointment and got up in time to go to it???? Adulting hard right now

    — Wednesday Addams (@_shaniaanne) September 30, 2015

    I have done so much adulting today so now I’m gonna go build a fort and watch the Kim Possible movie

    — ✨Emily Rae✨ (@consandclifford) September 21, 2015

     I used to teach college students, and as they approach their mid-20s now, it’s interesting to me to see which ones are “adulting” and which ones … aren’t. Which ones are renting first apartments and buying starter homes and which ones are calling their parents “roommates.” It’s even more interesting to see which of their parents equipped them with adult life skills like, say, the ability to wake up for a job interview on time, write a check, make a doctor’s appointment or … cut a sandwich?

    5th year senior in college and is disappointed her mother didn’t cut her sandwich the way she likes it for lunch. @jlwarne247 #adulting

    — Olivia Lacy (@oliviamlacy) September 30, 2015

    As of 2012, three in 10 people aged 25-34 had lived at home, most blaming the economy. About half said they paid rent, but far more claimed they contribute to household expenses (though it’s worth wondering if anyone explained to them that buying your own Gatorade and leaving it in the fridge with a DO NOT DRINK sticky note attached doesn’t count).

    Here’s the thing, though: Multigenerational households aren’t new. In many countries and cultures, and throughout history, different generations of a family lived together and each generation benefitted: Older relatives were cared for and supported, younger people went out to work to support the family and children were looked after by the family “village.”

    Except in today’s multigenerational households, it’s older parents helping to support their young-adult children — sometimes to the detriment of their credit, their retirement savings and their own lifestyles. Blame the recession, the crappy job market and the high price of everything for at least part of this.

    But for the rest of it, blame our American insistence on helicopter mothering. Many of those adult children aren’t living at home because they need to, they’re living at home because Mom has made it too easy to stay. They stay for us, not for them.

    Because if you look again at what Francis said, you’ll notice he wasn’t talking to men. In his own example, he’s admonishing a mother for ironing her son’s shirts at age 34.

    I saw a few folks on Twitter angry at Francis for the ironing remark, thinking he was telling men to go out and land wives who’ll iron for them. But he didn’t say that, probably because he’s never had a wife, and because one assumes Jorge Bergoglio ironed plenty of his own shirts back in the day. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out Pope Francis was running an iron over his vestments now and again, despite the legion of nuns who do the housekeeping where he lives. 

    Does this mean we should boot our kids out of the house when they turn 18? Of course not. I’m the mother of a teenage boy and I know my time with him, before I lose him to the world, grows short. So this mamabird won’t push him out of the nest before I have to.

    But if our sons haven’t yet flown the coop by age 35, perhaps it might be time to admit that it’s Mom who has the problem.

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