Recently, we took our 16-year-old son to visit a college campus where he may potentially attend soon. While there, we had the opportunity to attend a parent Q&A with some of the school faculty. One question was asked that both surprised and engaged me…“What common or repeated issues do you see with freshmen coming into college that parents would do well to know about in advance? And how can parents better help their children now while they’re still at home to be ready for these challenges then?”
The answers that were given in response to this question were so very practical and helpful. It was definitely an eye-opening response that every parent should hear for how to help prepare our children for life in the real world. Here are some of the nuggets of practical wisdom that were given that will help prepare your child for life.
1. Give them responsibility and accountability.
One of the common challenges that this college faced was freshmen who come totally unprepared for college life or life in general because they have never had to demonstrate full personal responsibility for themselves and their choices. In fact, when the college staff has to call the parents about issues with their children, they have found that often, the parents don’t want to collaborate to solve the problem, but rather either want to explain away their child’s behavior or blame the school for the problem. This makes the real problem evident—a lack of responsibility and accountability in the home.
2. Let them fail.
The college had found that many freshmen were not prepared to handle failure, whether on a test, a team, or otherwise. As parents, part of our responsibility is to help our children learn how to accept and embrace failure by ‘failing forward’. This requires that we…
3. Teach them how to solve their problems…without solving their problems.
Too many parents take on the responsibility of solving all of their children’s problems or inconveniences for them. They clean everything, pay for everything, fix everything, come to the rescue for everything. One faculty member said, “Students don’t know how to fix their own problems. When they get here and have a problem, they don’t know what to do. They short circuit.” Instead of solving your child’s financial, relational, and personal problems, it is imperative to teach children how to do these things for themselves.
4. Prepare them for life-management.
This includes how to handle money, make independent decisions, practice good time management, etc. For many kids, the first time they ever have to face any of these things on a real-life level is when they leave home. And as a result, they are not prepared.
5. Encourage them to pray daily.
If children can learn while they are still at home to rely upon God’s help to get them through whatever they face, they are miles ahead for their future. Nothing you do as a parent carries as much life-long weight as helping your children learn how to genuinely walk with God for themselves.
Sound off: Which of these 5 ways can you improve on the most for your children?
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What do you feel unprepared for if you had to live on your own?”