My daughter is on the cusp of adulthood, and I believe that we both share a certain anxious feeling in the pits of our stomachs regarding this transition! High school prepares our children for many things, but when it comes to leases, car trouble, budgets, job interviews, and the like, they are apt to flounder. Calculus and Shakespeare won’t help them in those moments! It seems unfair to me to allow a child to turn eighteen and then release him or her into the world, expecting them to know what they want to be for the rest of their lives and how to get to that lofty goal on their own. Some may say that paying bills is simply common sense. Well, who else is there to teach common sense but parents? So how do we prepare our sons and daughters for the real world after graduation?
Let’s begin with doctor appointments, health insurance, and other medical issues. When I take my daughter to the doctor, I handle her insurance and billing information. At this point, with her nearing that “golden age” of adulthood, it would behoove me to teach her how to handle it herself. We need to make our kids aware of the process. They should be prepared with their identification and insurance cards, and also fully understand co-payments, deductibles, and coinsurance. In the event of an emergency, they should be able to meander through the emergency room protocol, providing the necessary information.
While discussing accidents, we should also include our teenagers in the process of acquiring automobile insurance and maintaining a vehicle. Unless they have taken a mechanics class, they may not understand how to change a tire or know when to have the oil changed in their car. I have seen some teenagers who have no idea how to put gas in the vehicle! We are doing them a disservice to allow them to drive without understanding a modicum of automobile maintenance and care, including their car insurance and what that entails.
When I was in school, I took a home economics class that taught me basic ideas of cooking, sewing on a button, and household maintenance. That option is not available in all schools nowadays, so it is up to the parent. I think, as a mom, I enjoy taking care of these issues for my daughter, but to deny her the opportunity to learn these skills is a detriment to her ultimate well-being. While some kids may be the next Master Chef and others despise anything to do with the kitchen, they should be able to understand how to make a meal for themselves and the family.
Maintaining a budget is a beast all of its own and must be taught thoroughly! Walk your teenager through the process from the inception. Take your child to the bank and open up a checking account together. Explain thoroughly the process of writing a check, balancing a checkbook, using a debit card, and listing expenses. They should have a thorough understanding and knowledge of all of this before even attempting online banking. It is so easy to miss or skip these initial steps, but it is something they will need to know. Share the household budget conversations with your teen, so they can understand the many steps involved, as well as possible mishaps, peaks, and valleys therein.
Technology is a beautiful thing and quite helpful in our daily lives. Goodness knows, our kids are pretty fluent in it! Unfortunately, other simple things have fallen by the wayside. Social skills have vanished into texts and e-mails. Our children should be able to shake a person’s hand in greeting, look them in the eye, and speak clearly with confidence. Cursive writing is not even used in schools nowadays, so something as simple as a legal signature should be clearly understood. Yes, surely they know not to use chatspeak on a cover letter or resume, but it does not hurt to reinforce this!
As parents, we tend to make certain assumptions in regard to what our child knows and is prepared for in the big world into which they are venturing. We should be proactive in real-world lessons for our youth. Otherwise, we will end up with twentysomethings who have no idea how to feed themselves healthy meals, cannot do their own laundry, cannot manage their money, or even sew on a missing button! While love does involve care, it also should come with preparation for the future. I despise the fact that I am teaching my child not to need me…but then again, I do not want her to feel like she needs anyone to take care of herself as a woman.