It seems as parents we expect our children to go from kids to adults on the drive to college. Sometimes we haven't treated them as adults and yet we expect them to all of a sudden start acting like one. When our kids go to college they experience many emotions and all of them are overwhelming. Lets face it they experience freedom as they never have before and if they don't have a little bit of training that they received while in the safety of your home we set them up to fail.
I have come up with fifteen things that we should be teaching our kids certainly over the four years of high school and often times, several years before. This list is not exhaustive, just some observations as a mom. They are not listed in order of importance, just basically random thoughts.
- Laundry - your kids should be managing their own laundry. There are a number of kids who show up at college and have never done laundry. I believe this should start by middle school, but that is just opinion. You are not punishing your kids by making them do their own laundry, you are preparing them for life.
- Budget - your kids should have a set amount of money to manage for various things by an early age. Whether you believe in an allowance or not, they should have some financial savvy. My kids started managing a budget early. The first budget being a set amount to spend on vacation, say $20. That would be all they were allowed for their own spending. When it was gone, it was gone. We then moved to a back to school budget for school supplies. The lists get longer every year, but anyway we would agree on a budget. I would take them to the store and we would work on their list, perhaps they could only get one super cute character driven folder and the rest had to be the 10 cent ones. Whatever it was they were able to have some say, but knew there were boundaries. Finally we would give them a back to school clothing budget. We would decide on a budget and I would put the actual money in an envelope. We would discuss ahead of time what each child needed, such as two new pairs of jeans, three new shirts, socks, etc. They would pay for each purchase out of the envelope and keep the change in the envelope with a running total. We would head out to stores with envelopes in hand. When they were younger I would influence most purchases, but each year they received a little more freedom. When one was a teen he was allowed to go around the mall completely on his own. He game back with 1 pair of jeans, a shirt, a new cd and other things not on the list. He had to wash those jeans a lot!
- Make decisions and suffer consequences - refer to the lengthy number 2, when you spend all of your money on one thing on vacation you have to watch your brother and sister enjoy getting several things. Not fun. When you buy one pair of jeans and you don't get any more until Christmas, you have to do a whole lot of laundry. When you choose not to do your project until the last minute, you have a lot of stress and very little parental help. Or you get a bad grade, not the end of the world I assure you and the lesson learned will be effective.
- Manage a bank account - I really hadn't given much thought to this when my oldest was heading to college and a friend said she had learned the hard way that kids need this responsibility before they leave home. A call from an overdrawn kid is not a pleasant experience, being proactive is a much better than reactive, because just to be honest your child will make a bad financial decision at some point.
- Manage their own calendar - when in high school and sometimes earlier, kids get crazy schedules. They need to learn not to over schedule and they can't participate in everything. It also helps them in decision making.
- Deadlines - they should also manage their own school work, projects, papers. A mom that I knew was still calling teachers to get assignments for their child when they were in high school, gathering all supplies and keeping up with due dates. This kid made great grades in high school but left college after one semester because they had never had to do it on their own and mom wasn't there.
- Job - your child needs to have a job where they have a boss! Someone who tells them what to do and I really didn't mind when my kids had a hard to work for boss. Life is full of hard to work for or work with people and although not a pleasant experience, it is one that grows maturity.
- Fail - yes I know it is hard to do, but your child needs to experience failure. Many times that failure is a result of poor decisions. Show up to work late one too many times, you get fired. Forget a paper you get a failing grade. When they are still at home you can lovingly guide them through the process and lovingly build them back up.
- Paperwork - your kids should become familiar with filling out paperwork. When my kids were old enough to write clearly they filled out their own school paperwork. It was a lesson in penmanship and helped them become increasingly familiar with important information. I have worked with so many kids who didn't know how to properly fill out paperwork. That is something you will do the rest of your life! One student was in middle school and her mom was working with her on filling out her paperwork for school. As mom reviewed the papers she came to the question of who to call in case of emergency and her daughter had written 911.
- Use an alarm clock - your kids should get up by themselves. Yes that is right they need their own alarm and should have the responsibility of getting up by themselves, the earlier the better. Their roommate is not going to want to get them up in college and I have had so many students tell me that is the first thing they were told when they met their roommate, I will need your help getting up! Ugh NO!
- Resolve conflict - speaking of roommates your child should have adequate skills in resolving conflict. Do your referee every sibling disagreement? Your child's roommate is going to be someone else's precious, just like your baby and they need to be able to compromise and resolve a disagreement in an adult manor. You are not to try to fix it for them!
- Grocery shop - this goes back to the budget. But your child needs to be able to buy their own items but even shop for the family at some point. It is not good to get to college and have to go do this for the first time. One less stress that you can save them from the first time they are on their own.
- Doctor-dentist - they need to be able to call and make a doctor's appointment. Then they need to be able to go to the doctor and take care of insurance, prescriptions and whatever else they need without you. They will have to do this at some point.
- Holy Spirit - your kids need to be able to discern the Holy Spirit in their lives. So many times as parents we get in the way of the Holy Spirit. I don't know about you but with each of my kids I felt that I knew how the Lord was leading them before they would discuss it with me. But no matter how tempting it was, I didn't jump in and say this is what I think you should do, not always easy. They have to discover this process, not without your help but without your overbearing guidance.
- Defend their faith - this assumes your child is a Christian. Friends your children are going to face many oppositions to their faith, even at a Christian college. When a friend of our child attended a Christian college his parents were surprised at the challenges to their Christian beliefs that their child endured, this is a million times worse at a secular college. Your child should also be able to lead someone to the Lord. They are going to have many opportunites and they need to be prepared to share their faith! They should have a knowledge of scripture and how to use it to guide them in their lives. Their faith has to be their own and although we can and should guide them in this, it is time for them to own it before that are challenged at every turn.
What would you add to the list of fifteen? Is there anything with which you disagree? I would love to hear your comments.
Sharing with: Inspire Me Tuesday; The Scoop; Titus 2 Tuesday; Oh My Heartsie Girls Wordless Wednesday; Hit Me With Your Best Shot; WOW us Wednesday; Imparting Grace