Your child enters high school barely out of adolescence. Four years later, you watch an adult graduate. It’s normal but it may not feel that way to you. Where did your child go? While you ponder the universe, you will also have to get busy helping your teen prepare for adulthood. Whether or not they go directly to college, a lot has changed and the changes will keep coming.
Fortunately, there is a roadmap of sorts for this transition. For many years, parents have been finding ways to foster independence while still being there when needed. Everyone is different, of course, but a general blueprint exists.
Do Not Neglect the Basics
Assess where your child is at and what they have planned as their next steps. From there, you can guide them to master crucial, often overlooked skills like:
- Everyday hygiene
- Shopping and cooking
- Making healthy choices
- Maintaining a budget
- Basic repairs around the house (including the car)
- Doing laundry
- Writing a resume
You get the idea but it goes beyond chores and tasks. Be ready to talk with them about making new friends, navigating romantic relationships, handling life in a workplace, and more. If they’re the type of kid that likes structure, support them in creating valuable new routines in their life.
3 More Ways To Help Your Teen Prepare For Adulthood After Graduation
Help Them Discover Agreeable Options
There are so many possibilities and so many variations on each possibility. Will they go to college, a tech school, work full-time, work part-time, travel, and so on? Whatever they choose, they will need input and support. You might coach them on college applications or help them find the best job options.
The underlying key is that you do all you can to see them for who they are. Respect their preferences. Learn about their needs, dreams, and goals. This will empower you to be best positioned to provide counsel when called upon.
Validate Their Emotions
As much as they want to be respected as a “grown-up,” there’s a lot going on during this stage of life. Undoubtedly, your teen will feel overwhelmed and more than a little scared at times. Here’s where you may be asked to perform a high-wire act. They’ll need your support and validation but not in the way you’ve done for their entire life.
You’ll be challenged to talk to them — adult to adult — while still being a parent. They need both. Being treated like an adult is essential but most kids crave the special kind of reassurance you can only get from a parent. A high school grad needs room to explore without losing the safety net that have at home.
Don’t Project Your Emotions Onto Your Teen
Your teen will not be the only one juggling emotions. This scenario can trigger a whole lot of feelings in your mind. They might have to do with your own childhood. They might have to do with your unconscious fear of letting go. No matter what, do the work to identify these emotions and not pass them on to your child. For example, refrain from starting a question with something like “Are you nervous about [blank]?”
Who’s Looking Out For You?
To piggyback off that last suggestion above, you would be well-served to seek out some support for yourself. Transitions can be tough on everyone involved. There’s no reason to struggle in silence. In fact, you’d be leading by example by asking for help. With that in mind, we invite you to reach out. Let’s talk about the benefits of teen counseling or life transitions.