Prepare Your Kids for Life on Their Own
- Thursday, September 07, 2006
As your kids progress through the teenage years and start to think about life after high school, you may start to panic. Soon they’ll be moving out, away from you. Have you taught them what they need to get started in life on their own?
Teaching them some key attitudes and skills will help prepare them for when they fly out of your nest. Here’s what to focus on:
Teach them how to deal with authority. Give your kids a combination of unconditional love for who they are as people and clear limits on their behavior. Set appropriate consequences for misbehavior, and follow through consistently on discipline. Motivate your kids to obey not out of fear or duty, but out of love and respect for you and others in authority. Train them to face tough situations with courage rather than running away in anger. Say "yes" to your kids as much as possible, but be strong enough to say "no" whenever necessary. Think carefully about your values and decide which ones are critical to you. Then choose your battles with your kids. Don’t budge on issues that are important in the long run, and let other issues (such as personal preferences) go.
Keep your emotions under control when you discuss hot-button issues with your kids; be as calm and rational as possible. Let your kids see you in prayer, asking God for wisdom. Help them understand that, just as they need to answer to you, you need to answer to God for how you raise them.
Teach them how to handle money wisely. Give them a regular allowance and require that they use it to pay for certain things. Explain that they should strive to spend just 80 percent of every dollar they receive, save 10 percent of it, and give away 10 percent. Encourage them to give their time and possessions to others, as well. Open a savings account for each of your kids and teach them to set short- and long-term savings goals.
Talk with your kids about how much goods and services cost in real life. Take them grocery shopping with you and show them how to compare prices. Discuss the cost of expenses such as rent, car maintenance and insurance, and utility bills. Decide on a clothing budget and let them buy their own clothes (subject to your veto if any items aren’t modest enough). Help them analyze the value of items they’re considering buying. Once your kids have regular after-school jobs, open checking accounts for them and teach them how to reconcile the account to their monthly statements.
Explain how to use credit wisely and avoid debt that plagues far too many young adults today. Let them know how much interest they’ll pay if they buy things before having the money to pay in the bank to pay for them. Stress the importance of always paying off credit cards in full every month. Teach them to be honest in all their financial dealings. Show them how to make – and stick to – a budget. Explain the basics of investing to them. Gradually, as they grow older, stop paying for all their expenses and shift the financial responsibility more and more to them.
Teach them personal responsibility and self-discipline. Give your kids responsibilities around the house. Set deadlines for them to complete those responsibilities, and set consequences in motion if those deadlines aren’t met. Model responsibility in your own life by letting your kids see you honoring the commitments you’ve made to others. Help your kids make sure that their commitments match their priorities. Teach them how to say "no" graciously to requests that don’t align with their core values. If your kids are part of a team, encourage them to be faithful by attending practice regularly and not dropping out mid-season. Make a family calendar to organize your time.
Require your child to replace something that he or she broke or lost. Have your kids get themselves out of bed every morning when their alarm clocks go off. Have them pack their own school lunches. Don’t bail your kids out of crises when they fail to do their homework or complete projects on time; let them experience the natural consequences. Spend time regularly with your kids, teaching them to make good decisions.
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