A wise person once said, “The simple goal of being a family, of parenting our children, doesn’t really look any more complicated than this:
Bottom line: We’re raising them to leave. Go. Goodbye. We all know that’s what we’re doing, but sometimes we forget to equip them for the journey. Maybe we secretly don’t want them to go. Maybe we’re fearful. Maybe we haven’t learned to trust.
Whatever the reason, the kids—young adults—are going to leave, so we need to do what we can to guarantee their success. We suggest these 10 things (among thousands) that your children really must know before leaving home.
1. Know how much you love them.
Many men have a hard time saying, “I love you” out loud. Is that you? If so, deal with it. The people who lose are the ones you say you love. So if that is you, quit hiding behind a false manhood and love out loud. Is that clear enough?
2. Know that you believe in them.
Too many parents sabotage independence by hovering, offering help when it’s not asked for, assuming their children lack the skills to survive. That posture easily becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
3. Know how to take care of themselves.
Boys and girls alike need to know how to cook, clean, do laundry, sew on a button, and balance a checkbook.
4. Know the meaning of financial freedom.
Do your children understand that when they buy something they can’t afford it ends up limiting their ability to do things in the future? When they go into debt, they will answer to that debtor for as long as that debt exists.
5. Know how to use a credit card.
We’ve listed this separately because credit has the potential to literally ruin young lives before they get started. Begin when the kids are old enough to have a prepaid debit card, and train from there. By the time your child leaves home, they MUST understand the relationship between credit and the real money that’s necessary to back it up. Failure here will lead to more heartache and financial ruin than any other area of independent life.
6. Know how to assess their own medical needs.
Have they learned to read their own bodies, take their own temperature, treat a cold or the flu? Do they know when to go to the walk-in clinic and when to stay in bed?
7. Know where their moral compass is located.
Do they know how to make hard choices? Do they have a grounded sense of right and wrong? Have they had experience in making tough calls by themselves? Do they know what they believe?
8. Know where to turn to for help.
Mom and Dad might not always be there. Are your kids confident in finding or building community? What kind of support system do they already have in place other than home?
9. Know the ins and outs of official documents.
Can they file their own taxes? Get a driver’s license? Apply for a passport? Buy an airplane ticket? Look for a job? If your child is 16 and still needs your help in these areas, then it’s time to take an active interest.
10. Know how to locate your papers, your Will and carry out what arrangements you have made.
None of us are immortal, and our children need to have the confidence to act in the event of our untimely demise. Have you talked about it? Do they understand your wishes? Has anything important been left unsaid?
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What things do you think you should know before you leave here?”