The youngest of our 5 is about to be a sophomore in high school this year. And as I was reminiscing about how fast these last 15 years have gone for her, I realized that I only have a few more years left to make sure she is ready to take those important steps into her own adult world.
I started going through the checklists that her brothers all had to master before heading off on their own to see lessons my daughter needs to be sure of before she’s on her own. We’ve spent the last 15 years learning how to tie shoes, do well in school, make new friends, and care for herself. Now she turns her eyes towards the things she’ll need to be on her own.
Do your teens know how to write a check? Balance their bank account? How do they keep a track of how much money they have coming in and going out?
All of my sons were very surprised at how much it actually costs to live on their own. They priced out the cost of rent for their apartments against how much money they made. But before signing their lease we sat them down to make sure they can also cover food, electricity, water, gas, as well as food.
Having a visual budget they could look out really helped to be able to make sure they were covering their bills and even saving for car repairs. But be ready, even though they look ready, they will still need help even after they move out. We still get calls asking for guidance and even help with bills here and there.
Now we have gone over it a few times about calling 911 if they are hurt, AAA for towing, and yes they can still call home too. But what if we aren’t available?
Having a mental call list in case of an emergency is vital to being sure they are getting the best care when we can’t be there to help.
Trust me, teen boys and some girls will try to get by on Top Ramen and Doritos. But they need to know how to know what the true cost of their item is, price per lb. And they need to know how to avoid supermarket money traps.
Tip: Once a week have your son or daughter make dinner for the family. This includes looking for the recipe, shopping and using coupons, and making a meal within a budget.
I’ve asked my daughter to grab my phone when it rings and she looks at me like it’s on fire. So I know that’s a skill we need to work on. Can your teen take a message from someone they don’t know?
It's never too late to play telephone and catch up on this life skill.
Do they know how to check to be sure if they should open the door? What if someone tries to come in without their permission?
During the summer, we get a lot of door to door sales people that are perfect targets opportunities to practice this important skill.
Did you know one in four women college women have survived rape, attempted rape, or unwanted physical altercations?
Hate crimes against Muslim and Jewish students has gone on far too long. Students are being beaten, tortured, and even killed here in the United States, not in back allies and dangerous areas, but on college campus locations across the country. Does your son or daughter know what do to protect themselves?
From knowing when to ask for tutoring for a class to knowing when to come talk to their parents about a bad relationship, we all have to encourage our teens to have an open relationship with us. If they feel like they can’t talk to us, do they have someone they can turn to?
It might be hard for parents to accept. But giving your young adults a call list of other people to call might save their lives. Maybe it is clergy, a suicide hotline, or a family friend. They all need to know who they can confide in when they need to talk or ask for help.
Making these simple appointments regularly before they leave high school will give them the skills and confidence to do them on their own later.
This summer, have your teen make some appointments for you. These can be crossed off your To-Do list and give them time to work out how to get appointments accomplished.
As hard as it is to watch them make mistakes, it’s our job to start to take the hands off and let them do it.
Tip: Pick a day of the week and teach them how to do one load of darks, colors, whites, and delicates. Example – Monday Darks, Tuesday Colors, ect. Overwhelming them will make them zone out.
You would be surprised at how many people have no idea how to care for their own cars. Now is the time to get them ready for their step they’ll need to take after driving away from home.
There are so many skills that they will learn along the way as well as things that we will continue to teach them as they go. These are just a few of the lessons I know I’ll be working on with my daughter this summer.
What other skills do you think teens need to know before heading off on their own? I’d love to hear your tips and suggestions.