Yoda’s Wisdom Trail Series: Chapter One: The Three Little Pigs Leave Home
The Three Little Pigs – A Summary – by Jo Leonard
Three little pigs reach the age of emancipation. Oh, ok, the Mom pig tells them it’s time to leave home, go out into the world and seek their fortune.
William buys the first home-building kit he is shown by the local straw seller and goes off to build his house with straw. Patty looks at William’s flimsy house and decides on sticks, and Chrissy heads off to the local quarry to get stones and some 2′ x 4′ planks for reinforcement.
A few weeks later a wolf shows up looking for dinner and blows William and Patty’s house down in a few puffs. Luckily they took college track and field, outrun the wolf and head for Chrissy’s house, which is well-built and sturdy enough not to succumb to Mr. Wolf’s lungs. Good job Chrissy. Furthermore, Chrissy has a nice fire going in the kitchen and a big pot of water for coffee. (I think it would have been tea back then). Anyway, anticipating the Wolf’s next plan to eat them up, the water boils away feverishly, until splosh, the Wolf comes down the chimney and is cooked in the pot.
End of story. Pretty much. Well enough that we get the point.
So, what is the point? When I looked up the moral of this fairytale, it said, “work hard and it will pay off.” Personally I think there are more specific morals, so I chose the one that should resonate with parents of teens and 20-somethings, especially those who are heading towards, or are already at the age of emancipation. BTW, my definition of Emancipation = Ability to launch/fly from the nest/be free of parental financial assistance/independent.
Therefore, The Real World Moral of the Three Little Pig story is, I believe… “A lack of planning, and/or making un-calculated decisions, reduces the chances of a successful launch into The Real World.
Now I’d like to introduce you to Jo’s Stories of the Week, which may sound familiar to parents of 20-somethings who are still on Parent Payroll .
I have three new clients this week, all of whom are in way over their head financially, don’t like their jobs but are obliged to stay in them because they can’t get out of their leases. Mom and Dad have supported them for between six and 14 months, paying for their car insurance, half their rent, their cellphone, and their vacations. They don’t have a date to get them off Parent Payroll, but it is obviously an area of dysphoria for all parties. Jack feels guilty about taking money from his parents, Jill is pretty busy drinking Chai Latte and going to Happy Hour after work to be really worried, and Charlotte is spending an hour a week looking for a new job and is kind of stuck on what to do next.
If you recognize any of these clients in your own Piglets, keep reading for a quiz to determine how close you or your 20-something is to independence, and some great strategies to get there.
Now I’d like to introduce you to Yoda, the real hero of this series. Yoda of course is old but also wise. He has no problem carrying a walking stick because I think he has a bad hip, and isn’t afraid of calling out his younger folks when they say or do something stupid. We all have a Yoda in our lives. And every fairytale has one. I sit down with Yoda every Friday afternoon when the week has thrown me a good dose of challenges, and he walks me along the Yoda Wisdom Trail, answering questions and offering down-to-earth, practical, and age-old advice related to young adults leaving the nest and making it on their own.
“What’s up Yoda. How was your week? Did you have a chance to think about the three little pigs?” I asked him.
“A week full of complex thoughts it was,” he smiles. That’s how he speaks. He sometimes puts the verb at the end of the sentence. It took me a while to get used to, but now I like it. It puts an emphasis on the subject and the action; leaves you with something deep to think about.
“Two out of the three Little Pigs were vastly unprepared to leave the nest.” Yoda chuckles softly because he’s obviously picturing pigs in nests. “What I mean you know,” he says next. “William couldn’t wait to get going, made some decisions that were ill-considered, and suffered the consequences. Planning to fail is better than failing to plan, he said with a smile. “Patience you must have my youngster.” Never your mind on where you were in life. Never your mind on learning important lessons for future. Always Adventure. Heh. Excitement. A Jedi craves not these things. You are reckless.” “But Yoda, can someone so young have enough tools and wisdom to be able to plan the launch from their nest and survive and thrive? Their pre-frontal cortex isn’t completely developed until they’re 25. ” I responded. He rubs his chin and nods and then begins his own story.
“When I was 14 years old I knew everything, and my parents knew nothing. They said things that were embarrassing and stupid and I ran circles around them logically. I was also a much better debater than they were so it was easy to bring them around to my way of thinking. I believed back then that I had learned all I needed to learn, and was ready to make my own decisions. I rarely listened to their advice, and saw them as annoying. I stopped listening completely at 16.”
I am astounded at this narrative. I had figured Yoda’s parents to be flawless to have created such a wise sage, but the actual story was quite the opposite. “My parents didn’t know what to do. Between 19 and 24, a very stressed Yoda I was. Therapists and counselors and medicines for anxiety existed not; so bouncing off walls, getting bruised in my head and my body, making bad choices was what Yoda did. More difficult my parents made it by rescuing me with Parent Credit.”
“What do you mean they rescued you?” I asked.
“Like William the Pig I left home, but unlike William, I took a job as an Associate Analyst.” Again he chuckles as if he is thinking back to those days and probably also what a pig looks like when he’s analyzing things. “After 3 months on the job, money I was out of, debt I was in, and stress I was feeling. Bad dreams I was having and Yoda was eating a lot of ice cream. My Father told me I had to sub-lease my apartment and move home. Mother told him that I should get 6 more months to get settled and more financially stable. She won because I am good at the art of persuasiveness. Every month a credit would go into my account and I worried a little less.”
“I’m guessing you didn’t get on your feet in 6 months? I asked. “No I didn’t. I kept making the same mistakes, taking jobs that didn’t pay the bills, spending too much, and going back to the Parent Credit when I got into trouble. It turned out that Yoda’s Mom didn’t have as much patience as I thought, and after 16 months they cut me off!”
“Holy Yoda Problems,” I said. “What did you do? “The Universe sent me Sagesse, (actually she was a librarian at the local library), but she was a wise old lady, who took me under her wing and taught me all kinds of things I should have learned when I was much younger. Do you want Yoda to tell you some of the things she taught me?”
“I do.” I responded with interest. But first, let’s ask them to take a short Independence Quiz, to see how close they or their piglets are to becoming financially independent, because isn’t that what we all want?
Here’s the link to the Quiz. Come back when you’ve finished it. http://bit.ly/IndependenceQuiz
Yoda Wisdom for Parents of 20-Somethings still on payroll
“I read over the Launch Contract and the Lifestyle Design Worksheet in the Quiz” Yoda says with great excitement. “No such thing did my parents offer me when I was younger. I wish they had.” Ah, it is one of my greatest inventions.” I told him happily.
Here’s why tools like this can be so helpful: Formalizing the process of helping to launch your young adult off payroll may sound cold and calculated, but if you reframe it to be a way to improve communication, create clarity and get everyone on the same page, you may find that it takes the emotion out of the situation and gives all parties a sense of control, especially your child, who wants freedom, autonomy and the skills to make good decisions.
Next Steps: Call a meeting with your “piglet” (Suggest the meeting take place in an independent location – not the kitchen table. Your financial advisor’s conference room, a library.
- Ask your piglet to bring pad and pen, computer and a completed monthly budget of all expenses, including the Lifestyle Design Sheet.
- Have a talking stick, or a facilitator
- Introduce The Launch Contract as a working document
- Give all parties one week to make and/or negotiate edits
- Come back together to sign it.
- Hold everyone accountable. This doesn’t work if you don’t and it becomes a big waste of everyone’s time and doesn’t help anyone, prolonging the misery and robbing your piglet of autonomy, independence and full emancipation.
Yoda looks at me sternly and says, “Do or do not. There is no try.”
“That’s interesting”, I told him. “My Dad used to tell me something similar. Jo, don’t try. Do.”
That’s all folks! Come back for more stories that make you go, ‘hmmmmm’ and then reach out to Jo@JoLeonard.com if you want some personal wisdom on the subject of launching your 20-something.
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