I was recently talking with a parent of one of my teen clients who asked, “How do I know if my son will turn out OK and make good decisions when he’s an adult?”
The trick is to remember that you are raising future adults, not kids. Yes, you want them to go out into the world and live responsible and meaningful lives. They will fail, succeed, form new relationships, experience heartbreak, start a new job. They will feel pressured, frustrated, sad, happy, joyful, loved, accepted, unaccepted. They will have people in their life who lift them up and people in their life who try to tear them down. They will have their own, unique experience of being human.
So how do you protect them? How do you make sure they make the right decisions before and after they leave the nest?
Well…if you are wanting a fool-proof option, I’m sorry but I can’t give that to you. There is no sure-fire way to make sure your kiddo makes all the right decisions because each kid and their life experience is different. There are no guarantees (speaking from a kid who made MANY of his own mistakes 😅even with an amazing voice of reason – my mom). A better question might be: how do we prepare them to go out into the adult world and make good decisions?
One of the best ways you can prepare your kids is by living your values. Even if they don’t realize it, your kids are watching you! They are watching how you respond to stress, conflict, how you deal with failure, how you handle tough situations or tough people, and what you prioritize in your life. Your values will be the template that your kids use to build their own values as they enter adulthood.
A question I often ask parents is: “If someone who knew nothing about you were to watch a video of the last year of your life and every interaction you had with your kids, what would they say your key values are?”
Do those values align with how you want your kid to turn out?
There are so many ways to prepare your kids for adulthood, but one of the most impactful ways is to be intentional about living your day-to-day life in alignment with what you hope for your kids. It is not easy…but this approach will do more than any “quick parenting hack” ever will. Being a parent isn’t just about raising kids. It is about raising adults who are ready for the big, wide world. It can be more beneficial to prepare them than to protect them.