There comes a time in every parent’s life when you sit back and realize just how much your child has grown up. For some it happens when your toddler takes their first steps, for some it’s the day they start school, but for some, the reality of time passing way too fast is the day your teen departs for University, or moves out of home.
Over the years, from personal experiences, boyfriends’ living conditions, friends’ stories, coaching sessions and research, I have found out a really crazy thing: young people need guidance in order to understanding what being independent really means.
Once we finished high school, my best friend, 17 at the time, was telling me how there was a room at a flat that was looking for someone to rent it out, just down the road from this parents’ house.
“It’ll be awesome,” he said “I’ll finally have all my independence, and if I ever need anything, like money, or milk, I can just run up to my parents’ place”
Such is the train of thought of a teenager.
Becoming independent is about stepping up in your life. Everyone has their own story of how they got thrown in the deep end, and had to become independent, relying on themselves at some point in their life.
Here is a couple of ways to try ease your teen into understanding what it’s like to be independent to go from living with you, to moving out to start an independent life.
Get them to start cooking. Whether it’s one night a week, 5 nights a week, 3 lunchtimes a day, packing their lunches, coming grocery shopping/actually DOING the grocery shopping for the house – anything to do with cooking, get them to take over from the main chef at your place. After all, when they move out, no one likes a flat mate whose speciality is ‘Spag Bol’ and nothing else.
Teach them to do the laundry. Maybe get them to do this a number of times a week, or only do their own, or completely take over the entire laundry at your place – when they move out, they will definitely need to know how to turn their dirty clothes into clean one. I have some friends in their twenties, who don’t know what goes on between the time when they put dirty clothes in the laundry basket, to the time they end up neatly ironed and folded on their bed. Make sure your teen is not in this position.
Don’t nag. When you’re independent and living without your parents, no one is there to tell you to clean up after yourself, get you up in the mornings when you sleep through your alarm, or any of those other things your teen takes for granted. Stop the nagging for a little while – they might actually realize how much they really appreciate your little ‘reminders’
Teach them how to budget. Obviously by moving out, that means they will need to start earning an income if they aren’t already. Do they understand that going out to buy a car is not the smartest decision to be making with their first paycheck? Give them your advice, and let them know you’re there if they need to talk out about making smart options with buying, when they need it.
My second book ‘Shush, You!’ goes into what others have done to help their teens become independent, and what teens are doing to become independent themselves – definitely a great read if you’re in the position when your teen is getting ready to move out.
What are some of the ways that made you become independent? What is the biggest piece of advice you’d want to go back in time and give to yourself, knowing what you know now? Take a second to think, and make sure you share your revelation with your teen too!
Photo credits: successtechniquesforteens.com
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