As your child becomes a teenager, you’re likely faced with the realization that your loved one is growing up and will soon be out of the house. But as your teen reaches the end of their formative years, the transition to adulthood really begins. Here are some of the big milestones your teen will reach and ways in which you can support their blossoming independence.
Learning to Drive
For many teens, learning how to drive is the first big milestone in their transition into adulthood. As you’re already well aware, driving helps teens realize a sort of independence they have previously never known or experienced. Of course, some teens embrace this milestone by counting down the days until they can get their learner’s permit and take the driving test, while others may be hesitant to take this big step away from the safety of home.
In either case, help your teen embrace this milestone by giving them all the tools they need to successfully learn how to drive. Review online study guides and the rules of the road with your teen to prepare them for and hopefully pass their driver’s exam. For some teens, it may be a good idea to register them for a driver’s education class and/or professional driving lessons. Plus, by putting your teen in the hands of a trusted professional, you’ll avoid the possibility of straining your relationship with your son or daughter.
Navigating Love and Heartbreak
While your teen’s first foray into romance is a major rite of passage, the experience likely won’t come about without its fair share of drama and heartbreak. Help guide your teen through this experience by maintaining great communication and being willing to listen without offering judgment or criticism. Instead, be a sounding board and empower your teen to make their own decisions, rather than belittling them and telling them what to do.
While your parental instincts may tell you to get involved when drama arises, do your best to let your teen handle disagreements and other issues with their love interest on their own. Meddling may make you feel better, but it can hurt your relationship with your teen in the long run.
Entering the Workforce
Driving isn’t the only major milestone your teen will experience upon turning 16. With many employers requiring their workforce to meet a minimum age requirement of 16 years old, encourage your teen to learn the ways of the working world — and earn some sweet cash in the process — by getting their first job.
Indeed, working for someone else is a great way for your teen to take on added responsibilities and experience how the world works outside of the protective bubble they have at home. Additionally, a job teaches accountability, communication skills and a good work ethic that will benefit your teen for the rest of their life.
Of course, some parents are hesitant to have their teens get jobs due to worries that it will distract from and get in the way of school work. While this can be true, you can play it by ear, and if their performance in school starts to dwindle, encourage your teen to cut back their work hours. Adult life is full of many responsibilities that need to be balanced simultaneously, so you don’t want to deprive your teen of earning this type of vital life experience. After all, learning how to prioritize their time and juggle added responsibilities now will only help them succeed in the future.
Moving Away from Home
It’s never easy for parents when their child goes off to college and moves away from home. But the life experiences your teen can glean from moving out is invaluable. From learning the importance of cleaning and grocery shopping on a budget to how to cook and do laundry, your teen will have ample opportunity to mature and grow.
Whether your teen is starting college or entering the workforce, encourage them to live with friends or on their own. Help your teen find a safe, affordable place to live before getting them acclimated to their new surroundings, which should include locating the nearest grocery store, dry cleaner, retailers and restaurants, to name a few. With your assistance and encouragement, your teen can gain a new sense of confidence from this experience that will benefit them for years to come.