The one thing that I noticed when I went to college was the lack of preparation in many students for the responsibilities of adult life, or even the semi adult life of college. These kids were like kindergartners released on the playground and all the teachers had gone back inside the school. They were wild, out of control, and had no clue how to manage their time, money, or obligations. These also were not necessarily the typical party kids. These were just kids who had no clue and had always had someone to "manage" life for them. They didn't know how to go about it for themselves. So, here is my list of "must teach my kid" before she leaves home.
1. How to manage money and live within a budget. This is a big one! They always make jokes about the phone calls from college asking for more money, but truly it is no joke. I had no clue how to manage money or live on a budget when I graduated high school and boy did it show when I was in college and struggling to live on a small amount of money. I plan for Petunia to work with our budget as it is for a few months starting in January. Then this summer, when she has a summer job, to work within her own budget to pay rent, utilities, food cost, and other typical living expenses. Now, this money will go back into her account at the end of the summer, but it will give her the experience of working within a budget based on her earnings. I didn't know how to manage money at all and I fell into that deep dark hole of debt that so many people are in. It took years to dig out and I want her to learn early to live within her means and give her the experience of knowing how to do that.
2. Teach them the basics of managing their own home. Many kids leave home and don't know how to cook a meal or do laundry. These are important things to know. So basic home ec is important to teach your highschooler. Petunia does most of her own laundry and she does some cooking. It is basic and not elaborate or complicated, but at least she will be able to cook a few meals and follow the recipes that I give her when she is on her own. This will help her stick to that budget even more because she will be able to keep her food cost down.
3. Teach them to manage their time. This is not only for schoolwork, but for everything. If they need to make a daily list, or a calendar let them figure out what management tool works for them now. Give them deadlines, let them work a summer job and let them learn the consequences of their actions. You can't always protect them and cover for them. If they don't learn now to meet deadlines and work obligations then they will have a very hard time with adult life. If you set a deadline for schoolwork or chores, then there must be a consequence if they don't manage their time well and then miss that deadline. If they take a summer job and can't manage to get themselves out of bed and off to work then don't be their alarm clock. It is their job and their responsibility. If they get fired then they get fired.
4. Let them make choices and decisions within reasonable limits. Let them decide what social activities they will participate in, or sports they will play, or what clothes they buy (within reason). If you control every single thing they do then they won't know how to decide for themselves. I saw kids who were so excited to have so many choices of extracurriculars in college that they couldn't decide between them and were trying to do them all. This left no time for academics and their grades suffered. Kids need to learn to control their impulses and desires, and in doing so control/limit their choices. If we as parents do that for them then they won't learn how to say no and how to choose what they would like to do most.
Teens need to learn how to start being adults and the best way to let them learn the ups and downs is when they are safe at home with us. Then they will be as prepared as they can get for what life might throw at them. Blessings from the farm, Kat