I spent last week with Katie. She’s a graduate student in Indiana. I took up residence in the living room of her tiny apartment, sleeping on an air mattress. Katie works lots of hours so I didn’t see her a lot. However, I did see more clearly into her life as a graduate student.
It’s hard. Like I said, she works a lot of hours. She deals with the expectations and demands of her teachers and the students she helps (she’s a graduate assistant). She lives alone so that means she is responsible for finding time to get groceries, run errands, etc. She has no one to share the load. Her life is harder than I imagined.
Your kids’ worlds are harder than you think, too. As parents we can’t and shouldn’t live it for them. But we can prepare them.
*Here are a few ideas you can implement whatever stage you’re in:
- Teach your kids personal responsibility—putting away their own laundry, picking out their clothes for school, making their beds, filling in their assignment sheets. Don’t blame others for their mistakes, sins, or lack of preparation.
- Teach your kids life skills—cooking, cleaning, managing money, simple car maintenance, personal hygiene.
- Teach your kids social skills—looking the other person in the eyes when shaking hands. Answer questions in complete sentences. Ask others about themselves. Making their own appointments.
- Teach your kids character—follow through with what they say they will do, tell the truth, be kind, be gracious, respect others.
Then do your part—be the parent.
- “Don’t expect what you don’t inspect.” I don’t know where I heard this quote, but it’s priceless. Follow through and make sure your kids not only are doing what they should do, but make sure they understand and know how to do it.
- Don’t do for them what they should do for themselves.
- Check to see if homework is done and if done right.
- Hold them responsible for their actions.
- Be there for them—home and available.
- Make your home a place of refuge, acceptance, and understanding.
Do all of this with lots of love, encouragement, and grace.
Katie is doing well. She has excelled in roles she did not feel qualified to do. She does her job with excellence. She continues to grow as an artist—accepted at art shows and selling her work. She has grown and succeeded in part because she had the resources to do so. No, I’m not taking any credit here. But Katie is using all of what we were taught her and then some.
Our job as parents is to equip our kids and then stand back, pray, and watch them go!
What is one thing you need to teach your child to do for himself?
Or where is one area you need to lean in and help your child learn?
You can read more of Katie’s story in Love No Matter What: When Your Kids Make Decisions You Don’t Agree With.
*The level of responsibility depends on the child’s age, but I find many parents either do too much for their child or too little (with not enough teaching and follow-up).
Brenda Garrison is an author and speaker who empowers women with the confidence to live their calling. Brenda is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science Degree in Ministry Leadership with a Concentration in Women’s Ministry at Moody Bible Institute. She and her husband, Gene, are the parents of three young adult daughters and live near Metamora, IL.