Raising Future Adults

A post by a friend on Facebook got me thinking, and not for the first time, on that inevitable day in the future when my little one flies out of the nest.

She wrote…

As I think about my sweet oldest child turning 16 this year, I thought I’d ask a question of the hive. What are the things a person needs most before becoming an adult? I’m feeling like time is short and I want to give my kids the best gift I can before they leave home– how to make it out there.

He knows how to cook and wash his clothes. He knows how to balance his check book and file his taxes.

How do you prepare for college? Not the coursework, but all the rest?

What do you wish you knew during the ages of 18-24?

My dad has always said, “I wasn’t raising a child I was raising an adult.” And while he could have gone just a little easier on treating me like an adult (which magically reversed when I hit my teen years and he removed all freedoms I was used to having and didn’t want to be taken away), he had a good point.

What is it that we hope for from our future adults? And what steps or lessons do we need to engage in to get them there?

When Dee was little, maybe age six, she couldn’t tie her shoes. She would come to me and ask for me to do it. As I tied them for her one day I asked, “When do YOU think you need to know how to do this?”

She shrugged and said, “I don’t know. When I’m eighteen?”

I couldn’t help but laugh, shake my head, and then proceed to not only set her straight but start her working on that particular task – tying her own shoelaces then and there. It also set the stage for many discussions on the subject of parenting, age-related goals, and her future as an independent adult.

Adulthood doesn’t happen overnight. It doesn’t even magically happen at eighteen. It is cumulative – a gradual training to let go on the part of the adult, while simultaneously preparing the child for the transition.

The answers to my FB friend’s question above have been thoughtful, kind, insightful and practical.

I wrote…

Learn to listen to your gut. If a decision feels wrong, even if it is promoted by someone older or (supposedly) wiser than you, take it in, consider it, and then make your own decision. And never allow another human being to tell you who you are.

The basics are important, it is essential that our children know how to:

  • Cook
  • Clean
  • Care for their body
  • Understand finances and maintain a budget
  • Find employment and keep it

What else is important? As Melanie asked, what do you wish you knew at the age of 18-24?

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