Helping Young Adults Prepare to Leave Home
Ready, Set, Go!
The ages of 17-20 are the launching years. The teen is ready to move on. High School is no longer the end goal. It is either already under the belt or soon will be. The past few years have been filled with learning and discovery, and there is a plan in place for the future. Whether college, work, the military, or marriage, ongoing structure is necessary to provide guidance and direction. Specific career plans are not necessary at this point, but during the next few years, they will materialize.
Youth in this age group continue to need family support. They haven't gotten their feet under them financially, and have continued needs for health insurance, transportation, advice, counsel, and love. Even when they leave home, they need frequent contact to give them encouragement and hope for their own future. They will run into things that may be difficult and with their limited experience, they will feel frustrated.
Some youth rejoice so much in their freedom that their first year away from home, they contact very little while others call or text every day. The changing relationship between them and their parents may leave both a little unsettled, but more often than not, they will re-establish connects as they find their own identity and purpose.
Parents would do well at this stage to have patience and let go of the apron strings. Young adults need to make their own way in the world. They need to grow in their understanding of how things work. Helping them establish their own connections with financial institutions, communications providers, and insurance agencies is wise and will help them in the future.
Plans to Make
- Enter the job market. Temporary summer jobs are a starting place. Getting to know people who have their own businesses brings possibilities.Keep records of past jobs, supervisors, hourly wages, addresses, and phone numbers. Obtain letters of recommendation from mentors and teachers.
- Compile a working file. Vital information including birth certificate, social security number, passport, driver's license, medical records, and insurance information will be needed when away from home. Keep a file of high school transcripts, and a current resume.
- Access financial resources.Tap into grant and scholarship funds for continued schooling with the assistance of parents and the school counselor.
- Learn life skills of caring for oneself, the house, clothing, and food before leaving the comfort of home. A recipe file is wise, a list of addresses for close friends and family, and needed passwords and phone numbers. Be prepared for bouts of home sickness and the occasional illness. A first aid kit for both physical and emotional needs is a great help.
Tests to Pass
- Relationships - friendships are tested when distance is placed between them. Some friends will remain faithful and last a life-time. Others may not and that is okay. Those that last will become cherished memories and perhaps future family or business partners. Time will tell. Communication keeps these friendships alive, however; goals, experiences, and people change. Some may need to be let go as they do not prove to be a positive influence. Having the courage to let go when it is time is a sign of maturity.
- Sharing talents - talents may turn into employment opportunities or make wonderful hobbies that enrich future life. Being comfortable sharing is the key. Life is much too short to hide one's abilities. Those not used will eventually be lost in the shuffle. Outlets may be available at college or in the local community. Remember, success comes from hard work, persistence, and wise choices, and brings peace of mind in the long run.
- Spirituality - feelings of self worth come from remembering who you are, both your family, and your spiritual heritage. Accomplishments and success may fade into the distance, but you will always be of worth if you have kept your family and spiritual ties strong. There is no substitute for the good feelings that come from making positive choices and giving service to others. Make it a regular part of life's journey.
Enjoy the Journey
In spite of all the planning and preparation, there are times when its best just to enjoy the journey. The young adult is always the parent's child, but as they reach adulthood, there are moments where they seem more like a sibling, or a good friend. Their insight into the family, their own abilities and learning, and the prospects for the future are theirs alone. They come from a different perspective than that of the parent. There may be times of disagreement, and even down right anger and frustration. That is okay. They are adults now. They need to live their own life. Yes, they will come back home. They always do.