Raising independent kids: 16- and 17-year-olds

Sixteen and 17-year-olds are what I call “almost adults.” If you’ve been working on it, they’re quite capable in a number of adult things. They are almost independent. And they are looking forward to being full adults.

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  • When your child is 16 or 17, you only have a couple of years left to squeeze in as much training as you can. Your goal is that your child will be trained and taught enough to be largely independent by the time she's 18. Once they leave home, you’re done! So these two years are critical for getting in some great adult training.

  • The 16- and 17-year-old child often learns best from others — besides her parents. So this is a great opportunity to get the aunts, cousins, family friends, teachers, older friends and siblings to all step in and help train your child to be an adult. This is also a great age to tap into professionals and let them learn and build relationships at the same time.

  • What can 16- and 17-year olds do?

  • Get a driver’s license!

  • Of course, the biggest thing for this age group is getting that license and being able to drive. You need to be an active part in this learning process. Of course, make sure they’re prepared by understanding car operations, changing a tire, how insurance works and more.

  • Understand credit cards

  • Don’t wait for them to learn this AFTER they get a card handed to them in college. Now is the time to teach them about compound interest, late fees, and more. Warn them carefully and help them learn.

  • Resume preparation

  • Now is the time to prepare their first resume. Help them learn about how to list skills and education. There are several online helps or, in the U.S., you can turn to your local Chamber of Commerce for ideas. Make it look nice so they’re proud of their first resume.

  • Interviewing

  • Let them practice interviewing for a job with all your friends. They’ll learn a ton BEFORE it’s critical.

  • Career planning

  • Now is a great time to begin helping them firm this up. Have them take lots of online career interest surveys and narrow it down. Then line up interviews and free internships so they can check these out. It’s best to work in a law office for a few weeks and realize you hate it BEFORE you go to law school! Let them try out a bunch of careers.

  • Get a job

  • This is the perfect age to get a paying job. So many parents fight this and their children face a future without work experience. So help them network and get that first job at the grocery store or with your buddy’s flooring business. Now is the time for them to work!

  • Arrange for car insurance

  • Nothing slows a kid down more when driving that family car than lining up the insurance and realizing how much it costs. Let them do it! Have them contact several companies for quotes to see if you have the best deal. Let them learn about deductibles, claims process, etc.

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  • Assist in purchase of a car

  • Kids should NOT get a car until they can pay for it. If you are not in the market for a car, have them go through a simulated purchase. Take them to a dealer and have a salesman teach them all about it. They’ll get great tips and it will save them money in the future. And again, when they see how much they cost, they’ll slow down.

  • Household repairs

  • Your child will be on her own soon. So use these last couple of years to teach her about household repairs just as much as you can. She can shadow your neighborhood handyman to learn! Teach them as much as you can — guys and girls.

  • Checking account

  • He's got a job. Now is the time for his own bank account! (Have your name on the account as well, but use his Social Security number.)

  • File tax return

  • Yes indeed. Have them do their own! Some easy online tax preparation sites can help.

  • These last two years of childhood are critical years to teach our kids adult skills so they’re ready to be independent adults.If we don’t teach them, who will? If they don’t learn at home, how and when will they learn?

  • Give your 16- and 17-year-old the great blessing of making the effort to train them well. They will forever be grateful!

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Merrilee Boyack is a mom of four sons, grandma to two and an attorney, author, and professional speaker.  

Website: http://www.MerrileeBoyack.com

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