We love our kids and want to do whatever we can to make them happy and this sometimes involves doing a bit too much sometimes. If you have a teen who is due to leave home later this year to go to college, go travelling or move out, how can you gently but firmly shift your focus from rescuer to coach?
Tip 1. Skills and competencies they already have and a list of those they need
You have been showing them the way all their life, doing things for them and showing them how to do things for themselves and they know more than they think they do. These skills are stored in their subconscious.
Make a list of all the things you're pretty sure they can do already and check it with them. Maybe they can add other things to the list, maybe they just need a little reminder about some things.
What would they like to add to the list?
With that new list, ask them if there's something similar that they can do?
If not, who could show them how to do that thing, or could they watch a you tube video?
How will they feel when they know how to do that thing?
Are there some things that they may not have thought of?
Would it be useful to be able to..........................
Let's just talk through an average week and I'll tell you what I do that might be relevant for you.
Tip 2. Preparing them for self sufficiency...........gently
It's no good suddenly realising that your teen doesn't know how to use a washing machine or can't cook a meal for themselves, budget or organise their time, instead take it slowly. Ask them to give you a hand with something you feel they'd benefit from knowing. Maybe pop some instructions on the washing machine and ask them to do a wash as you're busy.
I expect you've seen the ads for Gusto, Hello Fresh and Green Chef etc they provide three meals per week with all the ingredients you need, easy to follow instructions and they're quick. If your teen isn't very confident in the kitchen, have some of these for a few weeks to get them used to simple food preparation and to give themselves some confidence and some recipe ideas. If you've already been encouraging your teen to be experimental in the kitchen you could talk about cheap meal options because they'll certainly need some!
Tip 3. Talking about money
It's a big change for them to have to budget so the sooner you can be talking to them about what their expenses will be and how much spending money to stick to each week, the better. Everyone's situation will be different but no-one has a bottomless pit or indeed a money tree in their garden!
and that brings me on to
Tip 4. Saying no!
They want to have fun and they want to party, make friends and enjoy all that Uni has to offer but running out of money is no fun and drinking so much that they put themselves in danger is not something they should risk a long way from home and with people they don't yet know well.
I've worked with so many teens who have got themselves into sticky situations because they couldn't say 'no'.
How do you say 'no' and mean it?
Children learn boundaries from their parents so although it's a bit late now to be teaching them this, it isn't too late to talk about how important it is to stay safe and weigh up the risks in different situations. I know many use buddy arrangements when they're out so that there's always someone keep an eye on them and being there if needed.
In the time before they leave home, be aware of saying 'no' and sticking to it.
Tip 5. Step away from rescuing
You love your kids, of course you do and you want to help them and know they look to you for advice and and knowledge, but they need to be able to stand on their own now and need to have confidence to make decisions without messaging you all the time. You've done a great job bringing them up but now is their time to shine, not yours. Let them show you how well you've done your job by stepping up to the plate and taking the responsibility over from you.
Let them make decisions, ask for their advice, ask them what they think about this and that and allow them to make their own arrangements about getting home and decide when's a good time, let them prepare their own meals some nights. They're going to be doing this 'for real' in a few months so it's going to raise their confidence to do it now while they're still at home. Of course they'll make mistakes, that's how they will learn but making mistakes on home turf is safer than many miles from home.
This can be a difficult period in the lives of parents as they lose part of their role but take the time to congratulate yourselves on a job well done and that you have such a wonderful child. You probably have other children at home and how you manage the leaving of one child will affect the others. They will miss their sibling but may be glad of more of your time, and won't want to hear that you miss their sibling or wish they were there to come on family outings. Talking about the absent sibling can lead others to feel that they aren't as important.
If you don't have other siblings, it's your time to do more for yourself. When you speak to your older teen or message them, they don't want to hear that you miss them or want to be asked when they're coming home, or why they haven't messaged all week. You want them to be self sufficient and they want the same for you. Co-dependent relationships are not healthy. This is a time to spread your own wings and explore what you want for yourself.