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Is Your Child Prepared For the Real World?

Lori Freson

Money, Jobs, & College

Is your child prepared for the real world? Unfortunately, there has been a trend in recent years of launching children into the real world without the knowledge and skills that they need to be prepared with. You might ask why this would be happening with such increasing frequency. The answer really lies in the parenting job that you do. It does not benefit anyone for you to do everything for your children. Really, you shouldn’t be doing much of anything they are capable of doing themselves.

Once your child learned how to brush his own teeth, did you keep doing it for him? What about getting dressed, tying his shoes or wiping his own bottom? Sure, some of us may have lingered a little bit longer than we should have, but eventually, we all allowed our children to do these things on their own. And that is as it should be. But, as they get older, for some reason it seems harder to let go and give them more responsibility for the things they are very capable of doing themselves. For example, I do not put my children’s dishes away, I do not make their breakfast or pack their lunches. I do not pick items up off their floors, and they are responsible for both emptying the dishwasher and taking out the trash.

While it may seem to go against all of your maternal instincts to stop doing “motherly” things for your children, you actually empower them and boost their self-esteem by backing off. When you remind them how capable they really are, and then force them to show it, they actually start believing it themselves. There is a sense of worth and accomplishment that comes from completing tasks and having independence. While you may think not doing everything for your child makes you a bad parent, the opposite is actually true. You are teaching them how to become adults, and it absolutely is part of your job to launch them with the skills they need.

In reality, there are so many things your child needs to know how to do before he goes into the real world. Here are just some of the things that come to mind that one must know how to do on his own in the real world.

  • Make or find healthy meals 3 times per day for an entire week. No, frozen pizza does not count. Accomplishing this means knowing how to shop for food, prepare food, and/or make good choices while eating on campus or out.
  • Run a washing machine and dryer. This includes how to separate and fold clothes and sheets and towels.
  • Know how/when to get an oil change or follow other car maintenance guidelines
  • Earn money, deposit that money and save/spend it wisely. Budget the money. Know how much money they have. Make the money last the entire month.
  • Understand how a debit card works and how a credit card works
  • Read a bank statement or a credit card statement and know how to call if there is a question
  • Write hand-written thank you notes to anyone who gives a gift or some other act of kindness.
  • Change air filters, smoke alarm batteries, and other routine maintenance
  • Clean their dorm room or apartment. This includes vacuuming and cleaning toilets.
  • Personal safety: no texting and driving, not walking alone at night, CPR course, health insurance, self-defense class, etc…
  • Can manage their emotions: can handle rejection, fear, or defeat. Can communicate anger appropriately.
  • Can call on their own a doctor’s office, police, neighbor, family or any other adult or service
  • Get a prescription filled
  • Wash dishes
  • Get to and from an airport and navigate through the airport to his flight
  • Ask a teacher or colleague for help when needed
  • Make or receive a proper phone call

The list could really go on an on. Because basically, everything you or your partner does, your child eventually needs to know how to do himself. The coddling and holding on isn’t doing anything for anyone; rather you are hindering your child’s ability to grow and flourish. So, teach your child how to cook and wash clothes. Teach him about banking and cars. Remind him the importance of the old-fashioned thank-you-note. Most importantly, set a good example of managing your emotions and solving problems.

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Lori Freson

Lori Freson is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Southern California. She has been working in the mental health field since 1997, and has been a licensed therapist since 2002. Lori currently works in her own thriving private practice in Encino and Sherman Oaks, where she serves the San Fernando Valley and Los Angeles areas.