January 22, 2018

Preparing Your Teenager For Life

I wrote the following article several years ago as my children were graduating high school and moving on to college. My children are all now fully functioning adults and I couldn’t be more proud. I now have the joy of working with many other families as they work on preparing teenagers to move on and it’s encouraging to see how well prepared their students are for the world that awaits. I pray this article will help you as you work on preparing your teenager for life.

You know, it’s hard for me to believe that I’m here already. I am the mother of two “grown” children, both attending college. My oldest is a senior at Florida State University (Go Noles!) and my second is attending the Aveda Institute for Cosmetology. I am now preparing my last child to be on his own in just a few short years. We’re researching various options for him – but we’re leaning towards a stuntman school we found in Washington.

preparing your teenager for life

Time goes by so quickly – one day they are going into kindergarten and the next they are graduating!

I speak to moms at conventions all the time who say to me that they’ve got years before they have to worry about preparing for college – but we all know those years just fly by.

So, just how do you go about preparing for that day? You must be prepared on several fronts. Your ultimate goal for your children is independence academically, psychologically, financially and spiritually.

Academic independence doesn’t mean that a student has learned facts – it means that they have learned how to learn. Can they search out and apply new information? Can they take what someone is teaching them – no matter what the teaching style – and convert it into knowledge they can use? Begin now to expose your students to teaching styles other than your own. It’s okay to have a teacher your student doesn’t understand or get along with. There will be many more just like them in college – not to mention a few bosses along the way.

When I say psychological independence – I really mean that they are capable of making decisions on their own and that they are not easily swayed by others. It is crucial that when our students attend college that they don’t succumb to every crazy idea that is out there. I fear that sometimes in an effort to shield our children (which we must do) we also fail to prepare them for the world and they become easy targets. Carefully expose your children to social arenas that may challenge who they are – allowing them to build their confidence and independence while still having you as a nearby sounding board. Teach your children how to handle credit cards, bills, car repairs, doctor’s appointments, grocery shopping, laundry, etc. It’s those little things that will get you. If you’re clueless, people can spot you a mile away and will take advantage of you.

Financial independence for our students is a parents’ dream-come-true. College completely paid for takes the load off parents in an already-difficult financial time (raising teenagers) and takes the load off the student who won’t be stuck with bills the minute they graduate. You can begin applying for scholarships years before you actually go to college. My favorite website is Fastweb. Go there and search out scholarship opportunities. Also check with your employers, your professional organizations, your clubs, etc., as many of them offer scholarships. Being strong academically will automatically qualify you for scholarships at the college you apply to – and will also qualify you for the Florida Bright Futures award. But academics are not the only way to qualify for scholarships. There are many awards out there for volunteering, creativity, family background, hobbies, etc. And, don’t forget the old-fashioned way to have money for college – save it! Teach your students to regularly put money into a savings account for the specific purpose of paying for college or vocational school.

And, finally, most important is spiritual independence. While we all endeavor to train up our children in the way they should go – their faith is not real unless it is their own. The teenage years can be crucial faith-defining years. Be sure that you regularly point out to your children what God is doing in their lives – let them see that He is real and that He is working out His plan for them. Encourage them to have a regular devotion time so that God has an opportunity to speak to them. They cannot rely on YOUR faith if THEY are going to succeed in this world.

Independence can be hard – it means that our children need us to make them not need us. How sad is that? But, this is fruit-bearing time! Enjoy the fruits of your labor – productive, independent adults with their own checking accounts!

~ to your success


This article originally appeared in HERI’s Home Forum in 2006.

Image courtesy of photostock/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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