You’ve done your best to raise caring, responsible kids, but is that enough to ensure success as they prepare to leave the nest? As we got our kids ready to head out, we realized there were some vital skills we had neglected to teach and some crucial conversations we had not had with them. We had to scramble to catch up, and I want you to learn from our mistakes! So what do parents need to do to prepare their kids to not just survive, but actually thrive when they leave home? As parents, we want to help our kids on their journey to separate and differentiate on the road to adulthood. Not only that, but we want them to feel equipped to effectively handle what will come their way once they leave the nest. (Don’t worry, they’ll still need you for some things!) Here are a few tips to help instill that confidence in them.
1. Make sure they know the “whys.”
It’s one thing to instill character and a sense of right and wrong into your children, but do they really understand why you believe what you believe? It may sound basic, but if you want your son or daughter to live by the character lessons you worked so hard to teach, they need to assimilate them as their own. The first step in this is to help them comprehend the reasons for everything you have taught them. (From why they need to get enough sleep and why they should separate the whites from the darks when they do laundry to why they need to bring a gift when they are invited to their roommate’s house for Thanksgiving.)
2. Make sure they have a few basic skill sets down.
From laundry to simple meal preparation and cleaning, equip your kids with the real-world skills they need to go it alone when they leave the nest. Other important skills might include things like auto care, handling prescriptions/medical insurance, and even basic first aid.
3. Make sure they know how to share their space.
Will your son or daughter make a good roommate? Help them understand how to be considerate when it comes to sharing close quarters with another person for an extended period of time.
4. Make sure they can handle their finances.
Whether you’ve put them on a strict budget or handed over your debit card with no strings attached, you want to be sure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to expectations with money. Who will pay for what? From books to beer, it’s better to set parameters now than once they leave the nest.
5. Make sure you’ve agreed on the “rules” for communication.
How will you get in touch with one another when it’s necessary? What about when you just want to catch up? We told our kids that we would try to text them before calling or video chatting to set up a mutually convenient time. That showed respect for them as adults.
When I look at my friends who have successfully helped their children transition to adulthood, I see parents who put the needs of their adult children above themselves. Preparing your child to leave the nest can be an emotional time for parents, but this is no time to place the emotions you might be struggling with onto your child. They are dealing with a big transition too!
What does it look like once they’ve left the nest? Often, it means closing your mouth and not giving advice. It means not rescuing and helping out too much. And it means encouraging and cheering on your adult kids from the sidelines. Yes, the sidelines. Letting go is hard, but your confidence in them will give them confidence in themselves.
What are your tips for helping your kids leave the nest and transition well into adulthood? I’d love to hear your thoughts and advice. Please leave me a comment and share your wisdom!