Can They Go From Kid to “Adult” After 6,750 Days? (Episode 313)
Last week I talked with Nellie Harden about the teenage years, and she brought to my attention the reality of parenthood. Did you know there are a total of 6,750 days that you have a child before they turn 18 and are considered a legal adult? Do you just flip a switch, and, after 6,750 days, they can go from kid to adult? I don't think so.
That's a bit intense when you lay it out. I did the math. I have 2,794 days left with my youngest daughter. I have 1,725 days left with my middle. And only 810 with my oldest. Yes, that's about 83% of her childhood, already gone.
What a wake-up call. Our time with our children is fleeting. And we have a big mission during this time. Launching from a kid to adult!
Wise Choices for Teens?
A while ago, we got this listener question:
"We have two in the family finishing their junior year. We did your LifeLong Learner Personality Snapshot with both of them. Could you touch on any additional resources to help them make wise choices based on those styles as it relates to potential career paths? How do I launch them from kid to adult?"
So let's dive in - how do you equip your children to really "adult"? And what does that even mean?
Pin for later:
85% of the process of finding the work you love starts by looking inward first
What is this "Personality snapshot"?
It's this "namaste" approach - to see the beauty within another, and connect on a deeper level. Find out more here:
How can you recognize your strengths, what triggers reactive behavior, and what motivates you? No matter if you're a kid or an adult, we're constantly growing and refining who we are at our core, and how we want to present that to others.
Sometimes this snapshot is the first step...and the next is this crazy thing called...
Let Them Dive In
Sometimes, we get so amped up about the future and focused on career goals that we forget the significance of basic life skills. If you want your children to gain experience navigating adulthood, it's a 3 step process:
- Look inward first - know their personality style
- Empower them for independence - teach them life skills!
- Then and only then do you start the career search path
Some additional resources for you
- Check out the 48 Days To The Work You Love Podcast - Kevin, Jared and Ashley talk about Education, Entrepreneurism and Career Choices
- Think twice about college being the "answer" for your child
- If you DO decide on college and are homeschooling, this is a great article on how to prepare them for it (minus the student loans part)!
- Curious what personality style your children are, and they aren't yet five? Check out the "Family DISCovery Playbook"
Teach them basic life skills
It may sound like common sense...but have you really taken the time to show your kids how to live on their own? It's not like you flip a switch and shift from kid to adult overnight.
Teaching your children independence is so critical. It may be easier for us to cook the meals, wash the dishes, balance the checkbook, put gas in the car, do laundry, etc. The more we can equip our children to be involved in the process, the more confidence they gain in their ability to do it themselves.
Not only that, the more they are aware of what goes on in a household and step into responsibility for helping it run, the more they are part of the family team, AND learning how to be a good roommate/partner down the road.
Even when my children were super young, they learned alongside us as much as they could. It's amazing how many children graduate high school knowing their multiplication tables yet have no idea how to do their own laundry or fix a healthy meal away from a microwave.
It's not just test scores and degrees. It's critical life skills that are so important.
Don't just hand over responsibility. Don't just do it for them. Walk alongside them and let them join you in the process. Model it and then move aside.
Observe beyond your own home - get out there and explore your interests!
Apprenticeship, internships, shadowing and even temp agencies are great ways to explore job opportunities that are out there.
Sometimes we are afraid to pursue a job or even career opportunity because we feel it has to be a life-long commitment.
Let go of that pressure. Allow your child to explore. People love to share about what they do.
Go and visit businesses. Let your children interview people in their areas of interest.
Don't be afraid to ask. You'd be surprised what opportunities may open up by simply talking to someone in the profession that interests your child - regardless of their age. Don't just wait to do this with your 17-year-old; even a 7-year-old can start exploring what their interest would look like as a viable profession!
Be willing to start at the bottom
Are you - or your child- willing to do the grunt work? Do you know how to grow? Try starting small. Be the one that gets the coffee, takes out the trash, etc. Don't be so focused on the big end goal of a cush job that you aren't willing to build it from the ground up.
We learn so much when we are open to exploring all aspects of a job. We gain much more respect for the work involved when we've tried it. Waiting tables, bagging groceries, being the errand person - when you experience being on the bottom rung in a business, you gain an appreciation and respect for every aspect, and ultimately gain the experience for promotion by truly being able to empathize with the other roles in the business.
Don't underestimate the importance of observing and recognizing all the rolls - not just the one fancy title they are interested in.
Again, this is started in the home. Do they do the "grunt work" there? Have they (gasp) had to scour a toilet? Have they made their own meal, and been responsible for not only taking care of any food waste, but also putting the food away and cleaning up the kitchen? Have they gone through the process of earning something from start to finish, and how to be a steward of it (maybe it was a prized toy/bike/etc or a pet).
Give Space To Breathe
Don't be on fast-forward so much that your child simply takes the first job or picks the first degree due to feeling pressured. Create a game plan that allows them to sit with it. To breathe. To experience what is most important in life and observe how others are making it sustainable.
I'm a huge fan of travel, clearly, and believe it can be an incredibly educational experience. My niece spent two months in Southeast Asia, and she was blown away by simply experiencing a culture so unlike the small town in Colorado where she grew up. That experience will take her far - not simply in a job opportunity, but in her empathy toward humanity and her perspective on life.
Don't discount simply living life. Education can take many forms, and functional education is a life-long learning model. As you prepare your children for the future, recognize that resources may be disguised as downtime, travel, hanging with a mentor, or doing a random one-time opportunity that just gets them involved in something bigger than their own heads.
Ask Powerful Questions
Play out scenarios with your child. Dig deep with questions to help them process it all.
- Are you willing to put a price tag on your art? Can you create under the pressure of needing to put food on the table?
- What are you going to do if your money runs out?
- Who are you connected with that pushes you forward and encourages you to grow?
- What are you accountable to?
- What money do you need to bring in to live on your own?
- What will you do if an emergency comes up?
When I was talking to Nellie in the last episode, she mentioned that we "discipline" our children so others don't have to. What she meant is that we have 6,750 days to help our children learn their own self-discipline.
If they lack this, it will be the world that corrects them -
- If you don't understand natural consequences, you're at risk of falling flat on your face and/or losing a relationship due to not recognizing your impact.
- If you like a joy ride for fun and hope you can get away with it, the law isn't as lenient on legal adults.
- If you lack the discipline to wake up on time or manage your time effectively, your work may suffer...or you get fired.
- If you don't pay attention to what is going into your body, the older you get, the more your health will be impacted in a multitude of ways.
Does your child understand their impact in this world? Do they have self-discipline, or is it up to someone else to keep them focused?
Even Adults need to recharge
Going back to the personality snapshots, what motivates your child, and how do they recharge? Life can be stressful, and the pressure we put on ourselves and our children to go-go-go can be enough for a complete breakdown.
Know your own personality style and what motivates you. Be the model not only of action but of recovery. Show them the importance of recharging by example. Allow rest in your own life so you aren't simply running on fumes.
Above All, Awareness and Respect
I have seen time and time again kids acting out in their homes, and it boils down to these two things - awareness and respect. This comes from both sides -
For kids - are they aware of their impact in the home? Do they understand the energy they bring into a room, how someone feels when they talk to them a certain way, or who does what to contribute in their home? Do they show respect for others, like taking turns to talk, speaking kindness, and being personally responsible for their own things and actions?
And now, adults - have you taken the time to hear your child out? Truly hear them? So often in the midst of transitions, life gets busy and kids can feel lost amidst a change - and can end up in a chaotic reaction mode where life just needs to slow down. Are you being consistent in what you say to them - so they trust your follow-through...every time?
Yes, we're not perfect and there are times we can all cave. Have you done the hard work upfront to instill you aren't beaten down in a moment of weakness? An example of this was when my kids were young and always needed to tell me something right now. Just ignoring them caused tension everywhere - they wanted to keep yelling as they didn't feel heard, I'm trying to ignore and continue a conversation, and whomever I'm talking to has the uncomfortable situation of trying to act like there isn't a screaming banshee at my leg.
It took about a month to really get it down pat. Every time they'd come up and start talking we'd practice the same routine. We focused a ton on awareness at home - and paying attention first before you open your mouth. They learned to put their hand on my arm silently when I was in the middle of talking to someone. And I learned to respect them enough to not leave them hanging for too long, as well.
Our kids need to recharge. They need to have a safe space - even amidst change and other siblings. They crave feeling heard and appreciated. They know when they are pushed aside or being "managed." Give them the respect you want from them. Model awareness in your own actions, including acknowledging their presence and being open with them on your bandwidth and what is happening in your worlds.
Your Weekly Challenge:
Be the example. Model learning, observation, action and rest. Be willing to let your children struggle.
Sit down with your child and help them define their strengths. What are they curious about? What motivates them? Who do you know that is an expert in this field?
Get to know your child and what they want to do...and keep in mind their own beautiful personality style. The uniqueness in each of us strengthens all of us.
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