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My daughter at graduation

Sunday marked a milestone as my youngest child graduated high school. While I knew this day would be filled with mixed emotions, I also knew I had done my best to prepare my daughter, and previously her two older brothers, for this new chapter. High school graduation marks a significant achievement, not only for the graduate, but also for those who have helped them to this point. When I became a parent nearly 25 years ago, I realized my responsibility was to help ensure my children had received the skills and guidance necessary to fly from my nest when the time came. I can proudly say that both my sons have done fairly well and I have no doubt my daughter will as well.

I have been fortunate to have children who did not struggle much, if at all, with school. In fact, my daughter was the valedictorian of her class and my older son graduated from college a few years ago with Summa Cum Laude distinction. My younger son has to work a little more in school. He is more hands on and mechanically inclined, so I don’t worry too much about him. He will be able to use these skills since he is pursuing an engineering degree. College certainly isn’t for everyone, there are other options for higher education besides a traditonal 4-year institution. There are lots of things to consider when determining what option is right for someone and just because someone may choose not to pursue higher education immediately out of high school, does not mean they cannot at a later time.

My daughter and two sons at her graduation

In order for children to grow in their confidence and competence, they must be given opportunities to use their current skills and knowledge, as well as to learn new ones. Stepping aside and allowing your children to make mistakes takes a lot of reserve and discipline. As parents, we want nothing more than for our children to succeed and to do so with minimal hardships. While this is a lofty notion, it is virtually impossible for children to develop many of the necessary skills and abilities to navigate the real world without stumbling along the way. Of course I am talking about small everyday stumbles, like being late to school due to oversleeping. Our children still need us for those bigger things. Letting them experience the consequences of their actions or decisions for those everyday things can teach them valuable “life” lessons and perhaps help them to avoid more serious issues later.

Here are a few tips from Dr. Bhargava to prepare your teens for the next step:

  1. Change your focus.
  2. Avoid quick fixes.
  3. Give your child the freedom to fail.
  4. Promote independence.
  5. Make college  or training decisions together.
  6. Ask about mental health support on campus or at their job.

As my daughter prepares to head off to college in August, like her brothers before her, I will continue to support her and encourage her as she makes those final decisions over the summer. I will make sure she knows that while she may be flying from the nest, no matter where in life her wings take her, I will always be here for her.

Author: Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County, harmon.416@osu.edu

Reviewer: Lisa Barlage, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County, barlage.7@osu.edu

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As parents, we want to know that our kids are going to be able to function without us.  We send them to school to learn all the academic essentials and we stress the importance of good grades.  However, are they really prepared for adulthood?  Do they have the skills to navigate life effectively?  Can they survive on their own?  A study published in the Child Development journal, revealed “youth are taking longer to engage in both the pleasures and the responsibilities of adulthood compared to teens from the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s”.  Jean Twenge, leading author of the study, found youth often arrive at colleges and jobs unprepared for independence.  Sarah Clark, is an associate research scientist with the University of Michigan and co-director of the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health.  In a recent poll she asked parents how confident they were in their child’s ability to perform different life skills.  She found:

  • 8% could make an appointment with a doctor on their own.
  • 25% could dole out the correct dose of an over-the-counter medication.
  • 41% expected their kid to eat healthy foods.
  • 46% would save money for the future.
  • 50% could handle a minor injury with first aid.

It seems our youth are not as prepared as we would like them to be entering adulthood.  Where do we go from here?  How can we produce young adults who can function and thrive independently?  I believe we need to go back to the basics and provide them opportunities to learn practical life skills.  GreatSchools.org suggests teaching your teen the following:Family doing laundry

Starting at a young age, my daughter had chores to complete, was given choices to make, and was provided opportunities to develop basic life skills.  It was not always welcomed with open arms.  In fact, the older she grew the more it was met with resistance and often anger.  I am proud of the strong, independent 16-year-old daughter I have raised but was reminded the other day she still has life skills to learn.  She completed an application for summer employment and struggled to answer the questions.  I was surprised she could not complete this seemingly simple task.  She is an honors student and loves to read and write.  After I reflected on the situation, it validated that learning life skills is just as important as learning to read, write, and do math.  It takes both academics and life skills to produce quality, motivated, contributing members of society.

Note: A team of Ohio State University Extension professionals have been developing short videos with a number of these basic life skills in them – check them out here. Topics include: interview skills, basic first aid, how to change a flat tire, how to make a healthy smoothie, how to develop cultural intelligence, how to measure ingredients, and much more.

Written by: Lorrissa Dunfee, OSU Extension Educator, Belmont County dunfee.54@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Lisa Barlage, OSU Extension Educator, Ross County barlage.7@osu.edu

 

 

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