Launching your child into adulthood
LAUNCHING YOUR CHILD INTO ADULTHOOD
By Kelly Arant | M.ED, NCC, LPC
How do we prepare our children to make the transition into adulthood?
Proverbs 22:6 tells us to, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it (NKJV).” I would like to place the emphasis on the word train. Children do not come into the world knowing how to transition into adulthood. It is our job as parents to teach them. The key is to start the training early.
Lindsey Hutton in her article, “I Did it All by Myself! An Age-by-Age Guide to Teaching Your Child Life Skills,” writes, “Teaching your child life skills is not only important for self-care and sufficiency—it also allows him to feel empowered, works on socialization and reasoning, and helps develop healthy self-esteem(3).”
Many skills can be incorporated into your child’s daily routine as early as age two; simple tasks like putting their toys away or putting their clothes in a bin. As they grow, age appropriate skills should be introduced so when they are launched, the skills they know include personal care, laundry, money management, food prep, transportation, and shopping(1).
THREE KEYS TO KEEP IN MIND
There are three key words to keep in mind when thinking of eventually launching a child: responsibility, accountability, and curiosity. These three traits help create a child who is independent. What does teaching independence practically look like? In his Psychology Today article, Jim Taylor provides us with “Taylor's Law of Family Responsibilities”. It states, “if family members fulfill their own responsibilities and do not assume others', then children develop into independent people and everyone is happy(2).”
This leads us to ask, what is my responsibility as a parent? What is my child’s responsibility? Parents are responsible for giving their children love and respect, showing confidence in their child's capabilities, teaching them that they have control over their lives, and providing guidance with the freedom to make their own decisions. Children are responsible for doing what is necessary to maximize the opportunities that their parents give them(2).
In addition to teaching our kids responsibility, holding them accountable is also key to having a child successfully launch from the nest. It is hard to watch and to allow our children to fail. However, learning to fail is a necessary part of becoming a productive, healthy adult. Taylor reminds us that responsibility is two sides of the same coin. Your children can't take responsibility for their achievements and successes unless they are willing to take responsibility for their mistakes and failures(2).”
Finally, in our attempt to raise independent adults, we need to encourage our kids to be curious and to explore. This may be hard for some. As parents, we want to keep our kids safe and provide security. We must slowly begin to let the “leash” out and allow our kids to explore, try new things, fail, and start again.
Failure to launch is sadly a true phenomenon that many families are trying desperately to navigate. It may make for a funny movie script, but a not-so-fun or funny real-life situation. If, as parents, we begin early to provide our children a safe and secure foundation, and then train them in the areas of responsibility, accountably, and curiosity, making this transition won’t be so hard.
Kelly Arant is a mom of two grown children and an Associate Licensed Counselor serving with Pathways Professional Counseling in central and north Alabama.