Whether your child is six years old or six months from leaving home, this post is for you. In fact, one could argue, if your child is six years old, this is the perfect time to think about the day your little one grows up and heads off to college. In either case, we want to give you some things to consider.
We know there are a hundred things to be taught before your child leaves home; like getting one more family picture, visiting the grandparents, passing on wisdom (don’t spit into the wind, life is short make the most of it etc.), and a litany of other topics to cover. The reality is you won’t get to it all, but you do the best you can. Here are six things you don’t want to miss!
1) Teach them some basic life skills – I’m a coach, make it a point to teach the fundamentals! Instruct your child how to do laundry, how to do a little cooking and cleaning, make sure they know how to balance a check book, teach them to check the oil in the car. Think about daily skills your child will need just to function in the world. They don’t have to be experts at any of them. But it can be an added stressor for you kid if he or she is away at school and can’t figure out how to use the washing machine.
2) Teach them a biblical worldview – This is an area I wish we would have done more, especially when we were first starting out. The truth is if you wait too long this one is harder, but not impossible. If your kids are young then make it a priority to begin filling their moral warehouse with biblical truth. Make sure they can answer questions like, “Who am I? Why am I here? Is there a God? Is the bible true?” If those questions don’t get asked before they leave home rest assured, they will get asked at school. Make sure you arm your child with wisdom to handle the questions life (and professors) will throw at them. If they are older, at the very least connect them to resources and people (including yourself) who can answer questions as they come up.
3) Teach them to be self-governing – As your child passes from adolescence to adulthood, make sure you are equipping them to make critical decisions for themselves. Even if, I mean even WHEN they make mistakes, it will be an opportunity to learn how to self-govern. We cripple our kids when we expect them to instantly go from fully governed by mom and dad to instantly governing themselves. Make it a gradual release of control as your child enters those teenage years.
4) Create a Rite of Passage – This has been a fun part of our kids’ transition from home to college (or military or trade school). If you need ideas for creating a rite of passage then we recommend “Raising a Modern Day Knight”. The principle is to acknowledge to your child that things are going to change. They are stepping into a new season of life and a Rite of Passage marks that occasion. Part of the Rite of Passage is reminding them of where they came and pointing them in the right direction. We believe it is important to be intentional about this process. You can get our guide to our TOP 10 Favorite Resources HERE.
5) Talk about life moving forward – When our first college kids came home we realized we’d forgotten to talk about a few things. Our kids were used to living on their own and making all their own decisions. No one was monitoring their meals, or homework, or curfews. Research has shown; to young adults freedom is like a drug. Once they get it they will do almost anything to keep it. Talk with them about home life when they return for breaks. Don’t assume it will all work out. We learned to shift the conversation from talking about rules to talking about common courtesy. In other words, we asked our kids to come home at a reasonable hour, not because of a curfew, but as a courtesy to mom and dad. We did want our kids to understand there were parameters of living in our house, even for adults. But we wanted to honor the fact they had been self-governing all year long.
6) Talk about announcing who they are – If your child goes away to college, a job, or even the military; in many ways their life is a blank slate. They have the opportunity to reinvent themselves. No one knows them so if they have been the class clown they can present themselves as straight laced and boring. Conversely if they were known as prudish and quiet they can now be the wildest kid on campus. Obviously they are limited by their own personality, but you get the point. Help them decide what are they going to announce to their new world. If they are quick to declare, “I am a follower of Christ”, they attract people and attention to that declaration. Obviously the opposite is true as well.
The question we want you to ask yourselves is this ~ “Who do you want walking out the door at 18?”
Check out this weeks 60 second video series on the same topic. Click here to watch the video.