This week we have been reviewing some of the items on our final checklist for launching our children into adulthood. The foundation for a successful launch should have already been laid. Our focus for parenting has been raising a child who is both marriageable and employable, but what about a firm spiritual foundation?
Sadly, current statistics for youth leaving the church after high school are staggering. We have found that research states anywhere from 61-88% of churched kids will leave the church upon entering adulthood. Where does the responsibility lie?
Many would be tempted to point their finger at the church, saying “if only there were better programs to teach my kids.” Training our children is our responsibility and no one else’s. That is why it is imperative that the main goal of parenting is to help our children grow in their relationship with God. If we expect the church to do this for us we will merely be raising a “church go-er.” Being a follower of Jesus is something that must be lived out in day to day life, not just a couple of hours a week in church and youth group. It is also something that we must live out in front of our kids, so that they can see it is real. Why would a teen believe Christianity is real if there is a difference between what they are hearing at church and what they are seeing lived out at home? Remember, not only are we to be the hands and feet of Jesus in the community around us but also in our home, serving our family for His glory.
In the previous months we have discussed the topic of dating in great detail. As we look at our final checklist for launching our children into adulthood this area needs to be addressed again. There are several issues with dating that can come up for the college student if they have not been trained how to process through them before hand.
We need to help our kids learn how to properly balance relationships. Some teens really struggle with the concept that relationships are only one aspect of their lives. When they become all consumed by a relationship the other areas of their lives begin to suffer. If teens do not learn how to balance relationships there can be drastic consequences as adults.
A second area that we need to help our kids with before they leave our home is knowing boundaries with the opposite sex. Again like we have talked about in great detail in past months, the consequences for casual sex in today’s culture can be devastating. Because of this we need to spend lots of time with our kids on this area so that by the time they leave our house they are well prepared.
In today’s fast paced culture, teaching our children how to use their time wisely becomes an important job that can make or break the college years. Teaching Time Management to our children can help them to cope with the many distractions that campus life can have. With the instant access to information that the internet provides, there are many benefits for today’s college student. For example, research for class papers is made much easier. However, there are many things that may distract the student and eat away at their time. Online gaming has become a major problem and there are even some students who can become so addicted to gaming that they can’t keep up in their classes and will end up dropping out. There are many other social activities that are available on the college campus that if not balanced can also effect the grades of the student . This is why in later high school years we must begin to allow our teens to manage their time. We can be there to encourage the good decisions and help talk through the poor. We must allow some freedom for our teen to make their own decisions in this area and possibly learn from their mistakes at home, with parental coaching.
One area that may work for a test of a child’s time management skills is bedtime. As your child hits the high school years you can experiment by giving them a later bedtime. As they approach their senior year, depending on their responsibility level, you can also see how they handle having no bedtime. This will begin to train them how to be responsible with their time and sleep schedule.
There are so many college freshman who hit the college campus unprepared for what life is about to throw at them. There are several of these areas that with a little time spent, we can help our kids avoid some of the damage done by bad decisions made in the college years. Like we have said previously, beginning to prepare them for some of these areas requires us to train and then step back and allow our children to make decisions.
One of the hardest areas for those college students who are untrained is money. Because of the cost of tuition and other financial responsibilities that go along with college, many students struggle to make it through those years. It would also seem that credit cards may be a challenge for the unsuspecting student. It is imperative that we teach our older teen, not only how to budget but how to use a credit or debit card responsibly. This may require that we help them open a checking account as they hit the later high school years. It is important that they practice with in the safety net of family. Keep in mind that many college students leave college with not only student loans to pay off but other debt as well. Sometimes this can be avoided with a little bit of training and practice.
Before they send a shuttle into space, there are countless things that are checked and rechecked; there are practice run throughs. The shuttle may even sit on the launch pad for awhile before the actual launch. Then the count down begins. There are so many factors that can affect the launch of a shuttle, even down to the weather.
There are several lessons to be applied to parenting here. Like we have talked about all month, the “launch” of a child into adulthood should be a process with just as much meticulous consideration. As a child is approaching their “launch date” or the end of their high school years, we as parents need to be looking at our checklist. This is the time to fine tune our preparations. We will be discussing a few of those fine tuning elements this week. Just like a shuttle ready to launch, as your child approaches the launch pad their foundation should have already been laid. But remember it is never too late for last minute preparations.