Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Preparing Young Adults for Life

Yes Honey... It was a phone call from our college freshman.
“Okay.. for what” 
“For teaching me how to make my lunch.”

I had to hide my amusement with a quiet smile. I remember when she used to get mad at me because she felt she was the only student in high school who had to make her own sandwiches.  A few months of college life helped her see just how valuable her life skills were, especially when compared to classmates who had never had to fend for themselves.
  • One co-ed ran up over one thousand dollars in credit card debt before she realized she had to pay the bill. She was so used to her parents paying for everything and so excited to have a line of credit that she didn’t pay attention to the fine print at the bottom of the application. She equated maturity with having not one but multiple credit cards. 

  • Our son had a friend who had to leave school early.  Never having had a high school job and always indulging his free time with computer play, kept him ill prepared for the responsibilities of balancing work and college life. 

  • It's not uncommon for freshman students to go hungry the last few days of the month because of impulsive spending habits with their food allowance.

How do you “enable” your young adult into life? 
When does parenting stop being “good” parenting and become enabling? How do you know when you should stop doing for your child and insist on them learning essential life lessons?  When your child accuses you of not loving them because you won't do for them, what do you say? How do you stand strong? 
While every family is different and every family has their own method of madness a few basic rules can apply to everyone: 
  • Don’t do for a teen what they can do for themselves - the teenage years traditionally were years of apprenticeship and the founding of life skills. While education is paramount as parents we should continue to apprentice them.
  • Phase them into fiscal responsibilities 
    • Encourage them to work out side of the home - this will introduce them to different management styles
    • Use prepaid credit cards to help them learn spending limits 
    • Teach them to keep receipts and account for their spending habits 
    • Teach them how to make and stick to a budget
    • Open a checking account and help them balance their checkbook
  • Have one night a week where they are responsible for preparing a family meal
    • Ask them to shop for you (from a list)
    • Discuss the importance of balanced nutrition
  • Let natural consequences teach valuable life lessons
    • When mistakes happen, don't rescue without discussion and consequence
    • Help them accept their mistakes with grace and correct where possible
  • Prepare them for working outside of the home 
    • Help them develop a healthy work attitude so that employers will welcome their talents
    • Teach them valuable skills such as working well with others and not arguing
  • Give them a yearly planning calendar and teach them how to use it
  • Teach them how to clean
    •  that bathroom and kitchen
    • their bedroom mess 
  • Thriftiness matters 
  • Have a sewing night where all family members mend clothes and/or learn how to at least sew on a button. 

What are a few ideas that you have used to prepare your child for life? 

By Linda Shaw 

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