Friday, October 10, 2014

Preparing Our Young People for the Real World

Your baby is all grown up, will soon be finishing high school, and going out into the “real” world. College or their first real job and home away from home is looming in the near future. Are they ready? Are they armed? 

If we don’t focus on teaching our kids responsibility, respect, and character, and give them necessary life tools, we have fallen short as parents and are setting our kids up for failure. If your child isn't prepared, it’s never too late to start shaping them. The goal is teaching skill sets and values; encouraging critical thinking and creativity; and building character, integrity, and maturity -- not expecting perfection or overnight success. Life is a journey, and learning how to live it successfully and happily is a process in learning through trial and error. We need to be the best possible role models and life coaches for our children. They will remember, and appreciate us. It may not be until we’re old, but they will thank us. :)

AT THE AGE OF 18, kids should be honing preparedness for adulthood in these areas:
  • Writing and maintaining a budget. Start with the basics. I taught my son about income, budgeting, and bills by using Monopoly game money and a list of monthly bills so he could tangibly see how it all works. Help them understand and pay bills/financial obligations, having a basic understanding of the economy and their role in it.
  • Balancing their bank account and having a clear knowledge of how credit & debit cards work (finance charges, fees, etc.). Help them open a savings account when young and contribute to it regularly with their own money to understand the value of saving.
  • Preparing a simple, well-balanced, nutritional meal themselves. (COOK, not make a cold sandwich or zap something in the microwave.)
  • Basic courtesy, manners, and etiquette.
  • Holding at least one part-time job. Discourage instant gratification and a sense of entitlement; encourage the value of self-sufficiency and rewards of hard work.
  • Doing laundry (sorting colors/whites, water temps & cycles, stain removal methods, folding, etc.).
  • Performing CPR.
  • Relationship building, to include respect, compromise, communication, trust, values, encouragement, personalities, commonalities and differences, etc.
  • Demonstrating effective communication skills (written and oral). Includes being able to hold an intelligent and articulate conversation with an adult and be able to effectively debate while respecting others’ opinions.
  • Maintaining a clean and tidy room/home, and effectively organizing personal belongings.
  • Completing their own college entrance exam, essay, etc., or job resume and cover letter, with minimal help from parents.
  • Feeling confident in an interview. Role play with the parent or other adults.
  • Expressing themselves emotionally, articulating their feelings.
  • Demonstrating ethical judgment and integrity.
  • Formulating their own personal belief system and be able to express their convictions of faith.
  • Possessing intercultural skills, communicating and having respect for others who differ from them in race/ ethnicity/culture/nationality, religious and political values, etc.

  • Showing an interest in giving back to the community. Get them involved, take them with you to volunteer
  • Having good study skills and understand researching and filtering information to effectively source and cite factual information.
  • Having personally written and sent hand-written thank-you letters/cards via postal mail.
  • Showing respect for authority – adults, teachers, law enforcement, political leaders, etc.
  • Realizing it's OK to fail. Every mistake or wrong decision is a learning experience.
  • Confidence in themselves and others. Teach them to express their individuality, and that what their peers think about them shouldn't matter too much, as long as they are authentic to themselves.
  • Practicing and valuing effective time management, prioritizing, and calendaring.
  • Effective problem-solving, critical thinking, and analytical reasoning. Present real-world challenges and talk through and coach them how to effectively solve a problem. Role play with different problem–solving scenarios/challenges and options, regarding such issues as relationships, physical, intellectual, social, emotional, educational, etc.
  • Demonstrating creativity and innovation.