Years ago I heard a speaker say that parenting wasn’t about raising healthy kids, it was about raising healthy adults. The older my kids grow, the truer I can see that statement is. I was given the opportunity to hear a man speak a few weeks ago who said that by the age of 12 we should be moving away from being “authoritarians” to our kids and into “coach or Mentor”. He was following studies that tell us that the majority of our personality, conviction, values, and beliefs are solidified by the age of twelve. You heard me, TWELVE. So by the time our kids are teens, they know what they believe, value, and how they respond to their convictions…and you can’t do a lot to change it.
My seventeen year old is home for just over a year longer and we’re being hit with the reality that she is going to be calling her own shots in the very near future. Our days of control are over. Sure we’re still coaching, and watching, and setting boundaries, because her brain is so glaringly obviously not developed yet, but we are moving more and more from law maker to adviser…dare I say…friend.
Did you ever see that movie Failure to Launch? Ok, so it was a really bad movie, but the idea is true, I’m seeing it EVERYWHERE. Kids don’t know how to leave home and be adults. No one is coaching them to be adults. It’s terrifying. We want her to launch, we really do. We want her to leave home, become her own person, get her own career, her own family, and have her own life…that we don’t have to plan or pay for!
So on a road trip recently we came up with a small list of ten things we thought our teenager should be able to do before she is launched to focus on this year.
1. She should know how to shop for and cook at least three real meals (not talking mac and cheese or Ramen noodles), something she can impress a boyfriend or co-worker with. Which means she should have a general idea of how much food to make to feed a certain number of people. Not gonna lie, my kid is terrible at this one.
2. She should know how to budget the amount of money she makes, pay her bills, and keep her account balanced WITHOUT accruing debt.
3. She should know how to do her laundry (thankfully, she’s been doing this for a while), what temperature different things are washed at, and how to take something to and pick it up from the dry cleaners.
4. She should know how to contact someone if she has car trouble and at least a small and general idea how to change a tire. Yup, that’s gonna be a challenge.
5. She should know how to mail something, you know, snail mail…it’s still needed sometimes.
6. She should know how to set her own technology limits. I know too many adults that don’t know how to put a phone down during dinner or a work meeting, how to plug it in at night- face down, or how to just step away from it in general.
7. She should know how to figure a tip. When we brought this one up recently she actually said “why, someone else always pays for me”. Ugh…
8. She should know how to buy tickets for, and use, many different and varied modes of transportation, follow signs, and get around.
9. She should know how to Look people in the eye when talking to them, apply for a job, go on an interview, and dress to impress. Thankfully she’s had practice with these already, but it’s a learning process.
10. And last but not least, she should be able to accept or deny a date (for a boy, ask and get accepted or rejected), how to be dated (I.E. how to be respected on a date), how to set boundaries for safety, and how to protect herself from a creep.
OVERWHELMING!!!! We have a lot to do, we’d better get to work….