Preparing your child for the real world is about more than just sending them off to college and hoping they do well. You should start from a young age, encouraging them to take on more responsibility as they get older. There are several things you can do right now to prepare.
Consider Sending Them to College
Sending your kids to college can help them prepare for a career so they can support themselves financially. Even though this is the time to help them be more independent, you might consider helping them out with the cost of tuition so they don’t start out life with hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt. One way you can help with the balance is to take out a low-rate Private Parent loan. You can still encourage your child to take some financial responsibility for their education. You might encourage them to work part-time while in high school so they can pay for things like textbooks, incidentals, and even food. Encourage them to work part-time while in school as well, since that will help them sharpen their time management skills.
Help Them Be Responsible
It’s common for kids to arrive at college unprepared for the challenges of life on their own. They might lack basic life skills, such as the ability to do laundry. They might not have had to demonstrate responsibility for their actions in the past. Many times, when the college staff has to call the parents of these kids, they find the parents do not wish to cooperate to help solve the issues. Instead, the parents want to try to explain it away or say it was because the college didn’t do a good job. That shows the child never had to take responsibility while at home.
Instead, give your child permission to fail if they don’t do something perfectly. There will be consequences, but it’s much better to learn these things while in the safety of home, instead of when living on campus. That will help them learn how to accept the fact that they might not always do everything perfectly, but as long as they do their best, it is okay. Getting them involved in big things in advance of college, like buying their first car, will provide responsibility without a huge shove out of the nest. When choosing your teens first car what you might be thinking about (safety, price, etc.) is likely different than what they are thinking about (color, capacity to hold all their friends) this is a good opportunity to provide guidance and give some freedom but also still provide support.
Teaching Them Life Skills
It’s easy to be tempted to take on the responsibility for their problems or consequences of their actions. You might pay for everything, come to their rescue, and even clean for them. However, you aren’t doing your teens any favors by doing this since they won’t know how to do these things on their own. Then when they get to college and have an issue, they won’t know what to do. They might rely on someone else to help them instead of being self-sufficient. Now is the time to teach them life skills such as how to manage money, do laundry, and manage their time. Plus, they will need to learn how to make decisions on their own. Once they get to college, they will likely be doing these things for the very first time, and you want to make sure they are sufficiently prepared.