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Help your teen make the jump to adulthood

19 August
Posted by:
Michael Grose

The transition from childhood to adolescence is challenging for young people, and can be downright difficult for parents as they negotiate a new set of relationships with a young person, trying to work out their identity.

There’s a great deal written and spoken about raising teens these days so most parents are prepared for this transition.’ Challenging times ahead’ is the general message for parents about to raise a teenager.

There’s another transition time though, which usually goes unnoticed. I’m referring to the transition from adolescence to adulthood, which coincides with young people finishing protective environment of secondary school, to move into a new life stage.

Many young people are sadly unprepared for this transition. It’s reflected in the fact that young people in the 18 to 24 year age are the most vulnerable age group in our community leading the way in all the wrong statistics including alcohol-related violence, depression and suicide.

Parents are often focusing on getting their young people through the final years of school and are unprepared for this next parenting phase. However if your young person is approaching adulthood there are some things to do to prepare them, and yourself for the next stage of their lives.

Expect more, not less: Most teenagers remove themselves from the regular life of their family, preferring their own company to that of siblings, and their peers instead of their parents. As a result parents often expect less of their son or daughter, than they did when they were children. In many ways, treat older teens and twenty year olds, like boarders where they either pay for their keep or help out at home. Like any boarder, they need to fit in with the rules of the house, keep their bedroom tidy and also let you know their movements. As a boarder they need to fit in with you, and keep you in the loop about their daily movements.

Give young people more power over their lives: Many young people want the freedom of an adult, but won’t take the accompanying responsibilities. Give young people more power, rather than less but let them experience the consequences of their choices, rather than shield them from taking responsibility.

Don’t take on their problems: It’s easy to take on young people’s personal problems as your own, particularly if your life isn’t busy as it once was. Support your young person who may be dealing with financial, work or relationship issues. Remember these are great learning opportunities for young people so skill them up rather than take on their problems as your own.

You still have to teach them: The difficulty about parenting late teens is that most of them think they know everything there is to know. “I know” becomes their mantra. Don’t be fooled. Look for opportunities to teach them the skills of independence ranging from cooking; filling out tax and other forms and helping them look after a car. Help them rather, than do these things for them. What you do with young people, is more important than the things you do for them.

Parenting was once a childhood to end of secondary school experience. Now it extends into well into the twenties, which takes many parents into new ground.

Of course, some young people mature naturally very quickly while others despite your best parenting intentions will take their time growing up, meandering their way through their twenties. It’s important to be a presence in their lives of these young people, at the same time getting on with your own life as well.
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