My friend Steve wants his kids to do well but he’s nowhere near ready for them to leave home. Not the one in elementary school, not the twelve-year-old, and certainly not the daughter who’s heading to college this fall. Steve and his wife have a great relationship with all their children, and they’ve been involved with everything. But their approach is so protective the kids have never had to learn anything via falling down, brushing themselves off, and figuring things out.It’s never too late to help kids leave the nest well equipped for what’s next.
“I just don’t want anything bad to happen to my little girl,” my friend said. That’s why, next week, we’ve scheduled a long lunch to chat. It’s never too late to help kids leave the nest well equipped for what’s next. Bottom line: Being an adult means you are able to face the world. We’ve got to prepare our kids for it. Here’s how.
1. Know that it’s all about how you respond:
It’s not what happens, it’s how you respond. Your kids need to know that – no matter what circumstances they run, walk, or fall into – they still have the option of choosing their response, and that choice is going to mean everything.
2. Know how to be a problem-solver:
Kids need to learn to live by their wits and they need the training right there at home. Get your children in the habit of facing, evaluating, and creatively overcoming all sorts of problems and obstacles.
3. Know the meaning (and the value) of struggle:
A wise man once said that, “We seldom grow outside of struggle.” First, make sure the kids are comfortable facing and talking about their struggles, rather than building walls or avoiding (You can/should model this; I’m quite sure we all need the practice!). Second, make sure the lines of communication remain clear and well-used when they leave so that you are available to help when they are forced to engage the next big struggle.
4. Know that practice makes perfect:
Our kids need to know we value them for themselves, not their performance; but anything they commit to is certainly worth giving their best. Golfer Phil Mickelson once said, “I’ve found out that the more I practice, the luckier I get.” If your child is going to make the transition to life on their own, it’s critical they understand they will need new skills and that they need to apply themselves to learning with intention.
5. Know how to think about money:
It’s never too late. My money-challenged daughter worked in a bank at 19, and the shock of it changed her life. Yours can stave off disaster by taking a class. Better yet, invite your child to get involved with the family finances and hands-on mentor their thinking. Managing finances may not be rocket science, but can still blow up the launch pad if they leave home unprepared.
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “When you think about leaving home, what makes you nervous?”