Training kids to be independent 101

Think back for a moment to when you first left home. Perhaps, for college or a job and apartment. When you moved out, what did you NOT know how to do? What came as a surprise to you? I can remember several things.

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  • When I first left home, I didn't have a checking account. I had never taken care of a car. I never made my own doctor’s appointments. I’m sure you can come up with a long list of things you suddenly had to scramble to learn how to do.

  • Will your kids be ready?

  • I recall a friend’s daughter who went off to school with a car. After a time, the car totally seized up and wouldn’t run — on the freeway no less. Diagnosis: No oil equals locked up engine. “What oil?” asked the daughter. You see, the "Daddy Fairy" had dutifully kept the oil filled and changed and didn’t want to worry his daughter’s pretty little head with such “guy stuff.”

  • My niece went off to college for her freshman year. She was staying in an apartment with five other girls. They would all be cooking for themselves. While the moms were hanging around in the kitchen chatting, three of the moms said, “Boy, I sure hope my daughter will not starve to death. She doesn’t have the slightest idea how to cook.” Then, the moms began discussing all the things their daughters didn’t know how to do and chuckled to think of them having to learn. My sister was horrified, as was I. Who did they expect to teach their children how to cook — and when?

  • Think of it this way, we have Mommy Eagle and Daddy Eagle with now Grown Child Eagle. They take GCE to a cliff, toss him over and say, “Welcome to Adult Eagle-hood Son. Good luck! Sorry we didn’t teach you how to fly.” Yet, day after day we have children leaving home with major, crucial gaps in their training. Some pick up those things along the way, often not very well. Others grope along and never get it their whole lives.

  • Where do we start?

  • I find it interesting that parents plan vacations, plan retirement, they plan the back yard, but few plan how they will train their children.

  • Let’s begin with the end in mind. Pull out some paper and write on it, “How I Want My Children to Turn Out.” You’re probably going to want kids who can care for themselves, keep a job, and have strong interpersonal skills. Now, we all want our children to be rocket scientists with huge bank accounts and fabulous families, but let’s be realistic. Bottom line, what basic things do you want your children to know and be?

  • Develop a Plan

  • Write at least five main goals or results. Continue to fill in things as you think of them. For example, For example:

  • 1. Have our kids be able to feed themselves = teach them how to cook five main dishes. 2. Have our kids be able to provide for themselves = assign regular chores. 3. Have our kids be able to clean their home = teach them how to dust and vacuum. 4. Have our kids be able to handle their money = give them an allowance from ages 5-12. 5. Have our kids be able to be safe = teach them first-aid skills.

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  • This part of The Plan is absolutely crucial. You will be spending many hours of many days doing things that seem trivial, but and you need to have that end goal firmly in mind. So, when you’re teaching your daughter for the umpteenth time how to thoroughly clean a toilet, you can say to yourself, “We’re training an independent adult here, and this is important.”Besides, just think how desirable your kids will be. Trust me, they’ll be irresistible.

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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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