The following post is from Shannen of Middle Way Mom:
Is it just me or do the teen years feel like the days are just ticking away while I’m trying to give those last bits of wisdom and knowledge to my teen before I don’t hear from her for weeks on end?
I have put together two lists on my blog, 50+ Tasks for Teenagers to Prep for Adulthood and 40 MORE Tasks, but if you’re short on time, that would be too daunting to work through. Or perhaps you just want to get started with the most important tasks, and don’t want to worry about such large lists at this point.
I’ve listed these tasks from most important to less urgent, but I would argue that all of them should be mastered before your teenager moves out.
1. How to Manage Money
From an early age, my dad drilled in to me the importance of paying your bills on time and staying within your budget. I can’t thank him enough for these valuable skills.
From the time kids get their babysitting or yard work jobs, they can learn how to manage their money. There are many aspects to successfully managing money, and they are especially important when you are not wealthy. My parents have never been wealthy, but they are retiring comfortably because they were very smart about money during their main earning years.
Even if you have not been the poster child for successful money management, there are many resources available to help your teen understand how to best use their dollars. Look for programs that offer:
- Knowledge on savings programs
- How to automatically save money monthly
- Retirement options and why to start early
- Learn what a credit card is and how to use it (it’s not an extra bank account!)
- How to create a budget and stick to it (Dave Ramsey is great for this)
2. Understand basic food safety
Even if your child won’t be a chef in their new home, they should know to keep raw meat away from their ramen noodles! Foodsafety.gov has some great information on basics of food safety, including videos to introduce their four main safety concepts: Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill.
Asking your teen to cook one meal a week and guiding them along the way is a great way to teach them these skills in a useful way too!
3. How to shop for a used vehicle
Okay, so this might not be something they have to deal with before they move out, but I would insist that an experienced adult be with your adult child the first time they purchase a used vehicle.
For my first vehicle purchase, I almost ended up with an 8 year old Chevy Cavalier, priced above blue book, on a 7-year loan at 17% interest. Terrible, right? Thank goodness I brought my dad the next day and he told them what they could do with their offer.
We went across the street and got a much better deal on a newer vehicle at a much better rate.
Before that incident, I also had no idea I could bring the car in for an independent inspection, and to look for rust on the undercarriage of the vehicle (in Minnesota, that’s a pretty big deal!).
If your child is going to be driving a vehicle every day, help them make sure it’s not a lemon and they aren’t throwing their money away.
4. How to care for their own health
I’ve spent a lot of time, money, and effort to make sure my kids grow up as healthy as possible. It would be a shame if, after so much care and attention, my adult child doesn’t realize they need to make regular dental appointments and then start having terrible issues with their teeth, for example.
Caring for your health can mean many different things to different families. You might lean more toward homeopathy and alternative medicine, or maybe you trust more in the allopath route (currently the mainstream medicine). Either way, does your child know how to find health care providers, and how to decide which to choose?
After your child has a care provider and schedules their visits, do they understand they must be an advocate for themselves? Doctors are people also, and can make mistakes. If they haven’t had to go through an instance where they had to advocate for themselves, make sure they know they can still contact you to help them understand when they aren’t receiving the best care.
What other skills would you add? What does your teenager need to know before moving out?
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