As a parent of three teenagers it’s clear to me that more than ever before that there are gaps in their formal education and to ensure that they have a strong foundation to be prepared for college, careers and life in general my wife and I will need to teach them these life long literacy’s.
They remind me of this almost daily when frustrated with homework, stating when will I ever use this knowledge in my life. I have to agree, their pre-calculus homework seems a bit of overkill for non-mathematics majors.
However, they will continue to trek through these subjects and we will supplement their education in a number of areas to hopeful produce well-rounded young adults.
In This Article
How to Prepare Your Kids for Adulthood
Here are the steps for preparing your children for adulthood that we are following.
When I was in high school I attended a class barbecue at a local park, at some point during the day I offered to jump in and help cook to give the teachers a break. There were some stunned looks on my teacher’s faces. They wanted to know where and how I learned to cook. At home I replied and off to man the grill I went.
Teaching your children to cook for themselves is an essential life skill, you might even consider it a survival skill. There are many benefits to being able to cook for yourself, eating healthier and saving money are tops on our list. We are introducing our children to cooking by asking them to pick their favorite meal, shop for it, and then prepare it.
My wife and I will be there to assist, but they will take lead. From there we will look for each of them to cook a meal once a week, this will continue to increase their cooking abilities and give mom and dad a break.
Our children have more ways of communicating with one another than ever before. As technology continues to evolve so will these opportunities. That may not be a good thing, text speak and emoji’s don’t translate really well into the business world. You need to look someone in the eyes when you have a conversation, speak in full sentences, and have the attention span to listen to what they have to say.
Just image your child in their first job interview, and they only used text language to answer the questions. It’s important our children have the interpersonal skills.
- Demonstrate leadership
- Handle / provide constructive feedback
- Written skills – letters, emails, resumes
- Demonstrate listening skills
- Understand and respect other POVs
We cannot assume these things are all being covered in school. When’s the last time you proof-read a writing assignment of your child or listen to a conversation they had. It’s worth a read or listen to make sure they are on track.
Don’t laugh, I know some of you need to ask your children for help when it comes to technology. They have grown up with the internet and smart phones, but how well do they really know it. Sure they can use it, but can they set it up, troubleshoot it, and adapt to the rapid changes.
To be effective adults it’s important they can exhibit a range of functional and critical thinking skills related to information, media and technology.
- Use technology to acquire, organizes, communicate information.
- Software – word processing, create graphics, host a virtual meeting.
- Use technology to acquire, organizes, and analyze data.
- Software to format and create graphs charts, tables, etc.
- Use technology as a tool – understand set/networking of desktops, laptops, smart phones, etc.
I realize this is a big bucket, but having the basic understanding of these technology topics will serve your child well. Being able to set up, troubleshoot and use technology will save you time and money.
In most careers it could help you earn more money too. Oh and someone has to know how to set up and manage the wifi password.
The basics and I do mean basics are covered in school currency overview, banking basics, etc. These things are not enough for young adults beginning their financial lives.
At age eighteen that will be faced with major decisions, like college, military, or entering the work-force. It’s critical they have an understanding of personal finance topics.
- Budget, Planning, Money management
- Saving, compound interest
- Income, careers
- Student loans
- ROI on college degree
- Credit, debt
- Risk management, insurance
Having a good understanding of these topics will not guarantee success, but not having any knowledge of them can almost certainty set them up for failure. Talking openly about these topics sets the precedent with your children that it’s okay to discuss money, typically a taboo subject in many households.
No one said rising children was going to be easy. I just want to prepare them as best as possible before they head out on their own. I believe teaching them in these four area gives them a better shot at success. I love my children, but don’t want them living in my basement for the rest of their lives.
What do you believe is the most important topic to teach your child before the set out on their own? What do you wish you learned early on in your life?
Brian is a Dad, husband, and an IT professional by trade. A Personal Finance Blogger since 2013. Who, with his family, has successfully paid off over $100K worth of consumer debt. Now that Brian is debt-free, his mission is to help his three children prepare for their financial lives and educate others to achieved financial success. Brian is involved in his local community. As a Financial Committee Chair with the Board of Education of his local school district, he has helped successfully launch a K-12 financial literacy program in a six thousand student district.
41 thoughts on “Steps for Preparing your Children for Adulthood”
Great topic Brian. I think there are several things. Practical skills like cooking, laundry, and balance a checkbook are critical. I also think that communication, both verbal and written are huge. (you should meet some of the kids we hire out of college). I also want to give our Little Man unstructured time….to allow him to find his own creativity. It appears to me, that kids are way overscheduled now. Or at least much more so than I was in the 1980s.
Go out and play, boy 🙂
Thanks! Agreed Bryan, we have talked to our kids about thinking beyond the tradition working for someone else path.
Everybody needs to have at least cooking basics (and a date meal) before they head out of the nest.
I think the other topics (communication, technology, and financial) are important to help kids know how to think concretely and critically about them. Our world is rapidly evolving, but the ability to make decisions about the topics you mentioned will help young adults navigate the murky waters of adulthood.
Didn’t even think of cooking from the POV of a date, but a good reason to know how to. 🙂
Definitely financial and cooking, but also some other skills like gardening (both my dad and Grandpa were amazing at this) and some other random skills like sewing, canning, etc. It just feels like I could have done more DIY’ing in my life if I had these skills passed down to me.
I like the gardening and sewing ideas. Our yard isn’t really set up for growing a vegetable garden, but I like the idea of being as self-efficient as possible.
Very important topic! My son just turned 5 and I got him monopoly game and now he understands the finances better. I guess hands on games help a lot him. I definitely want to point out that communication is THE key no matter what the topic is. If you are unable to discuss, listen and speak, then there are no results and changing that later is very hard. Great post, very helpful!
Thanks Reelika. I believe communication skills may be the biggest challenge as the forms of technology continue to evolve that limit actual human interaction.
The three categories that I feel are most horribly underserved through traditional schooling are financial health, physical health and sexual health. A poor decision in any three of those can affect the rest of your life.
Great point Stefanie. It’s so important to make wise decision in all these areas, one wrong move can have a lasting impact.
These are all thing we will aim to teach the beans before they are on their own someday. I can’t believe how quickly they are growing up already, it will be here before we know it even though it feels so far away!
It goes quickly Cat. My twins are learning to drive, looking at colleges, talking careers, exciting and scary all at the same time.
Those are all great lessons. One that I had as a child was a lesson in being handy. This one I’m definitely proud of. I don’t own a home now but I’m pretty sure I could fix most problems that occur if and when I do own a home.
Another good skill FF, and could save you a bundle of cash over the years too.
All great lessons but communication skills is something that I wish I would have improved on when I was a child. I can see these skills being even worse in the younger generation which just sends texts and is constantly looking at his or her smartphone. My parents always told me to keep my head down and to work hard, and while having a great work ethic is important, I believe that your communication skills are even more important. It’s important in all facets of life.
Whether you work for someone or are self-employed your communication skills will need to be sharp. I’d include public speaking in there too, another valuable communication skill to have in the tool belt.
I actually think that after financial literacy, a knowledge of cooking is probably one of the greatest gifts you can give your kids. I have so many clients who waste money ordering out because they say they don’t know how to cook. Even if you don’t love cooking, you should force your kids to watch youtube or food network videos and replicate the meals for the family. It’s a great financial and life skill to have.
When we’ve talking about cooking, I’ve asked them can you read and follow directions? Go look up a recipe and let’s begin.
Great steps, Brian. We, as parents, definitely need to step up to the plate and make sure our kids leave home ready to take care for themselves at a high level. The sad reality is not that many are, even though they come from good homes with parents who love and care for them. The problem is many of these important life skills are simply not on their radar or they assumed their kids will figure it out or already know how to do these things, when most don’t.
It unfortunate that some parents are not better preparing their children. A little teaching / direction will help foster a better relationship a the grow.
I learned to be relatively frugal from my mom, though I got a little looser with things in college. But by and large, it really is the best thing if you can only teach one.
Good for your mom for teaching you early on.
Your anecdote about using your cooking skills as a highschooler is inspiring. I have 4 boys and struggle with letting them have time in the kitchen (they are young, but still…) Mac & Cheese plus a few odds and ends are about all I’ve let them try. But grilling. That is total man territory. And bonus, my husband gets to be the teacher. I love it!
Thanks Janeen. Just think of the break mom and dad will get with four great cooks in the house!
This is awesome. I agree entirely. I would probably add “basics of maintenance” as well. They need to be able to do laundry, iron, and use tools for basic tasks. My cousin had someone borrow her iron in the dorms and then show back up ten minutes later to say “How do you use it?” I did not graduate with any cooking skills at all. I had to look up how to boil eggs and how long to cook a potato in the microwave! I plan to remedy that for my children!
Agreed Maggie. Laundry was one of the early chores we taught our children. Not only using the washer and dryer, but folding it and putting it away. 🙂
You’re so right that there’s so much to teach kids!! Teaching my daughter financial literacy tops my list, although I look forward to the day when she can cook us dinner and do her own laundry, too. 🙂 Just today, she asked me why some of her money is at the bank (savings account), and some is in her piggy bank. I explained interest to her in very simple terms, and she got really excited about the concept. This lesson was well-timed, since she has a birthday later this week, and several kind relatives send her money every year.
Great timing Amy. I’m sure this will motivate her to save a little extra this year. Hope she has a Happy Birthday!
These are all great lessons to teach our kids. I especially agree with communication. I can’t believe how often I hear younger adults misusing words and speaking poorly, even those that are hired specifically for communication skills (such as broadcast journalists). One more thing I would include is how to find your own education. Whether it’s a household repair, DIY task, or a new career skill, being able to find the appropriate resources (videos, books, online classes, a mentor, etc.) to teach yourself what you need to know gives you a huge advantage in life.
Agreed Gary. I’ve talked a lot to them about side/passive income. Having a plan B, using my recent job loss as an example. Just letting them know its best to have options or a back up plan.
We are totally on the same page as you, Brian. In fact, last year I had our oldest daughter make the entire Thanksgiving meal (with my supervision) and this year our second oldest will do the same. I knew how to cook when I moved out and it was such a valuable skill to have that most of my friends didn’t have. However, I knew nothing about money, and that caused decades-long problems for me and Rick as he didn’t learn anything about money either, so we are teaching our kids thoroughly on that subject, and just opened our 16-year-old’s first checking account recently on that front.
Wow, Thanksgiving meal, you jumped right in. We are starting smaller. 🙂
Great advice. I would add doing your own laundry to the list.
Thanks Tre. Agreed on laundry, already checked off our list. 🙂
I think you’re on point with this post. There seems to be so many things you need to teach kids, but some are more important than other. I hope to teach my kids a decent amount of business/entrepreneurship lessons from a young age.
Thanks DC. Entrepreneurship lessons are important, also good to follow your own path.
This is a terrific list. I’m speaking from the vantage point of not having kids, but I’ve certainly observed lots of people around me heading into life without some key skills. I’d encourage any parent to add to their list: giving kids some experience being away from home before they really leave home. Send them to sleepaway camp, let them travel on their own for short periods once they’re old enough, etc. So many of my dorm mates in college had crippling home sickness that really held them back from experiencing college, whereas I had spent a lot of time at camp and traveled, and had no problem being away from home. I’m still thankful that my parents let me experience all of that, which helped me be much more independent when it was time to leave the nest!
A great point. College life and course work can be challenging enough without being homesick.
I’m a “new” dad and there is just so much change going on around us. These are some great things and topics you talk about. Although I’m not close to it yet, I know that there’s a lot that’s waiting for me and some of these things you talk about are serious things we could all teach our kids. Glad I ran into your article.
When I lived away from home for the first time, I didn’t even know how to do a laundry! I was not one of those kids who was naturally helpful when it came to chores. If my parents made me do it, I learned, but if they didn’t … My kids have the same lack of love for chores that I had, and I find it’s like pulling teeth to try to teach them some things. The best strategy I have found is to simply stop doing certain things for them. eg. “You want clean clothes? There’s the washing machine.” Then the questions regarding how-to-do-it come, and learning can happen. I think it’s not possible to completely prepare our kids for when they move out , and that’s OK. The learning curve happens once they’re on their own if the basics are in place – and mom and dad are just a call or a text away : )
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