I was reluctant to write about this topic. Why? Because it is freaking HARD to do. They are, in fact, adults, so trying to support them can feel like trying to cuddle a porcupine.
My two teens were total opposites. The oldest used me in all the ways right up until he couldn’t. I will always remember the summer before he left for college. I suggested he use an alarm clock to practice getting up on his own. His response: “I am utilizing all of my resources until I no longer have them. And you are my wake-up resource.” My youngest was giddy when she figured out that she had access to her health MyChart at age 14, which meant solo access to all of her health care. (There is a whole blog post about the absurdity of that later on…. no 14 yr old can decide on health care choices, get to appts without an adult, or pay for those appts). But you get the idea. Total opposites. Figuring out how to best support both of them took a lot of trust in the former parenting years, a lot of guesswork, and hope we are doing it right. Here are a few takeaways for those on this porcupine journey with me:
- If a teen wants the support like my oldest, offer it as long as you can, but make sure that he knows the natural consequences of not learning the skill you are trying to teach.
- If a teen wants total independence, provide as much as you safely can, and process those barriers of still needing that pesky grown up for things.
- Help them learn to budget and manage money with a DEBIT card that is linked to the account their job is connected to.
- Allow them to make mistakes…. whew, this one has been the hardest for me, especially when you can clearly see the “right” way things should go. There are so many life lessons learned from mistakes. As parents, we have a tendency to want to prevent those mistakes from happening. Hold back, your teen will be a smarter grown up if you do.
So, my top 4 as a parent of a 19 yr old and almost 18 yr old. Definitely not an exhaustive list! Other parents please chime in with other takeaways you have learned along the way. Parents of younger and older children, chime in too. Supporting our kiddos/teens/adults is a lifelong journey.