One day you turn around and realize with disbelief that your child is almost ready to leave the nest and go out into the big world on his/her own. That day is bittersweet. If you’re watching all this and you see before you someone who is prepared to go, and filled with independence and excitement for the future…applaud yourself, for you have done a great job!
However, many parents find that young adult kids are not ready to attempt a move out on their own. According to recent Pew Research studies, a larger percentage of young adults live at home with their parents than in past generations. To better equip your young adult for life without mom or dad in the next room, here are some skills that will make the transition easier:
- Confidence and Emotional Well-Being: Teens and young adults who have learned to master their emotions can keep themselves out of negative situations in all areas of their lives. They can walk away from harmful people, abusive jobs and avoid all kinds of problems. They can also stay in control during times of stress, deal with discomfort and find ways to delay gratification. They can identify positive friendships and relationships and not allow themselves to be taken advantage of.
- Financial/Budgeting Skills: Before your young person leaves home, he or she should have a good understanding of how a budget works, how to use online banking, how to balance a checkbook and how to pay bills. Of course, you will probably be there as back-up for a while, but he or she should understand the consequences of not managing these things appropriately, such as damaged credit, utilities being turned off, cars being repossessed and eviction. It’s a tough world out there!
- Domestic/Maintenance Skills: Your child should learn some basic cooking skills, how to maintain their automobile, how to do their laundry and how to keep their space clean before they move out. They should also be ready for small domestic emergencies, like what to do in case of a fire, how to unclog a toilet, whom to call for a pest invasion and what to do if an appliance breaks.
- Academic/Work Skills: Learning how to have a good work ethic is a critically important skill, and teaches a young person to push through in nearly all aspects of their life. Learning to be on time, follow instructions and complete their projects will benefit them not only at school and at work, but in their relationships, hobbies and home life.
- Getting Along with all Types of People: Positive social skills and manners can take you a long way in life. Teens and young adults should know how to be courteous and how to carry on a basic conversation with any person they encounter. In all types of social situations, your child needs to be taught to read a room and know his or her audience. They should act in a way that is appropriate for the surroundings and the situation and always be kind and courteous, even when those manners are not reciprocated. Honestly, you can only teach so much of this…a lot of it they have to learn through their own experience.
- Self-Care Skills: Your child should know how to ask for help, know how to identify if he/she needs medical treatment, know how to sign in at the doctor or hospital and how to complete paperwork. They also need to understand how to pick up a prescription and self-administer medication. Finally, and this one may seem like a no-brainer, but your child needs to know how to maintain basic hygiene. Send them off with toothpaste, toothbrushes and lots of soap!
As the parent, you’ve spent the better part of the last 18+ years working hard to ensure your child is ready to conquer the world on his or her own. Are they ready to be on their own? Can they survive in the harsh reality of the real world? Yes, yes, they can. They can, they will, and most likely, they will thrive! (Although they may come back once in a while craving a home-cooked meal and carrying a big sack of laundry.)