Get Your Teens Involved in These Major Family Decisions as Early as Possible

Teens are adults in waiting. They will be out of the house and on their own before you know it. When that happens, they will be expected to handle all sorts of issues for which they are woefully unprepared.

In some ways, the teen years should be treated like apprenticeship for adulthood. Sure, kids attend grade school for 12 years, and hopefully university for another 4 years. But that education is almost all book learning and almost no practical experience. Being a wiz kid at math teaches very little about money management. Studying sociology does not prepare them for being parents. Knowing everything about biology confirms little information about sexual wellness.

Responsibility cannot be learned from books. It is also less likely than ever to be learned from teachers. There are many restrictions on what teachers can teach by way of life experience. Coaches often serve this function. But many schools have had to cut their athletics programs. It is more important than ever that parents take an even more direct role in guiding their children into adulthood.

Parents cannot take for granted that the school will teach kids how to drive. Parents have to do that. They have to teach their kids how to be fit, how to cook, how to do basic woodworking, and so much more. Parents cannot just tell. They have to show. Teens need to practice adulthood before they are cut loose to figure it out for themselves. Here are some of those areas where you can get your teens involved in adult decisions early:

Buying a Car

Teens need to go with you to the dealership and be with you from selection to signing. They need to know every part of the process. They need to help you research and find the best deals. They need to see the process of getting a quick auto loan. They need to understand the terms and know when they are getting the best deal.

This also necessitates that you let them in on the family finances. Teens often have no idea how much money their parents bring into the house. They don’t know what is in the bank at any given moment. They don’t know the amount outgoing for bills. For them, family finances are a magical box. That is simply not going to help them make good decisions when they are dealing with household finances for the first time. So be sure to open that box as early as possible so they know how the magic is done.

Writing a Resume

At some point, your kids are going to need to get a job. There is a good chance their first job will be something part-time during Summer break. They will have to fill out an application for that job. Those applications are not usually too demanding. But there is still a lot they can learn about filling out an application the right way, and in a way that will get them noticed.

Down the road, they will need to do more than fill out a simple application. They will need to write a resume and cover letter. The best way to teach them is to bring them in on the process the next time you have to apply for a new job. There is no reason to keep any of that a mystery. Let them see your qualifications and how you position your experience and education in a way that makes a pleasing and professional offering. Don’t let them go off to college without showing them how to make a good first impression at the application level.

Recovering from Your Mistakes

Parents are humans, not superheroes. They often try to hide their weaknesses, mistakes, and illnesses from their children. But that never works. The children always find out. Then, they are left to contextualize it for themselves. Parents should be honest about addiction and treatment with their children. This has the immediate benefit of reassuring the child that while things are difficult and weird right now, they are getting help so that things will get better.

Without this openness, children will be adrift when they start having problems of their own. They will think there is something wrong with them. They will try to cover it up and will have no idea how to get help. By opening that particular black box at an age-appropriate time, you can spare your children from a lifetime of unnecessary suffering.

No parent gives their child a bicycle without teaching them to ride. In the same way, parents need to teach their kids how to buy a car, how to apply for a job, and how to recover from Serious health issues. Don’t just tell them. Show them. And to the extent possible, allows them to participate.