Shaping Your Teen’s Character Part 6: Preparing Teens for Launching
This section can be difficult for parents as they consider the idea of their teen transitioning into adulthood. This may be the best time for a young adult to make this move, and it may be with the parent’s joy, blessing and applause. In other cases, it may just need to be done because the young adult is no longer willing to abide by certain house rules and something has to give. Regardless of the circumstance, we can teach and model our beliefs and desire for them to be successful. In learning to successfully manage the expectations of the real adult world and grow towards wise independence, most teens will need some extra opportunities and specific guidance. Young adults have shown us that having a “Voice” (the confidence and skill set needed to influence things that matter to them) is very important to them.
Launching is a critical process that requires participation and involvement of parents as well as children. The following process will help parents accomplish this. Sometime during high school, and certainly by the beginning of their senior year, begin a concentrated effort of moving the teen through a series of rites of passage that include increasing doses of responsibility and freedom.
PARENTS’ ROLE IN LAUNCHING PROCESS
- List all the tasks for which the teens need to take charge.
- List the “adult” responsibilities children need to step into.
- List freedoms that will be given based on tasks accomplished.
- Have a “This is what you can expect from us when you turn 18” discussion.
- Verbalize confidence in their ability to be ready to move on.
- Listen to them if they tell you they are not ready to move away.
- It is fine, in fact sometimes preferable, for teens to be given additional freedoms provided there is a specific structure in place.
- Consider carefully your expectations of them regarding grades or work. Share your expectations with them.
- Give them overt and covert messages that you will be okay when they leave.
- Make peace. Keep in mind the goal; forego the point. Don’t get involved in useless power struggles and conflicts.
More details on teens’ responsibilities in this process can be found in the appendix.
- Janice Gabe, Preparing Teens Workshop, 2003.
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