It can often be difficult for parents whose children are leaving the nest for the first time. It may be even more difficult for grown children to leave the comforts of home and thrive as independent adults. Once upon a time, young men couldn’t wait to free themselves of the chains of parental bondage, spread their wings and soar. Anymore, it seems like both young men and young women are remaining tied to mother’s apron strings into their late twenties or even later! As parents, our primary responsibility is to prepare our kids for a life of success and independence in the real world, which takes an intentional approach to parenting. Whether your youngins are chompin’ at the bit or hiding in the corner, you can be proactive about helping them make the transition to adulthood. Here are a few important steps to take to help your kids prepare for and adjust to life as an independent, responsible adult.
1. Create a Budget
You can help your child adjust to the real world by helping them to create a budget that allows them to manage their money. Ideally, this should happen in stages appropriate to the child’s age beginning very early. Pay kids a commission (not an allowance) and help them learn to save, spend, and be generous. I’m a big fan of the 10-10-80 rule (10% Giving, 10% Saving, 80% Discretionary Spending).
When kids get a little older, begin making them responsible for certain expenses, such as their cell phone bill or Karate tuition. Help them set financial goals and make a savings plan towards college tuition or a graduation trip. Calculate their take-home pay and create separate categories for each expense that they’re responsible for paying each month. Review the due dates of each bill to ensure that they avoid late payments. You also want to advise them to set aside a certain amount of their paychecks for an emergency fund. Many free tools exist for making this process easy and intuitive, such as everydollar or mint. For more information about raising kids and money, check out Rachel Cruze’s Vlog “3 Tips for Teaching Teens to Budget.”
2. Provide Them with Essential Items
Life is expensive. You know this, but it may come as a shock to young adults when they venture out on their own. From toilet paper to dryer sheets, it’s important to stock their boxes with items that they may not know they’ll need. Make sure care packages and moving cases sufficiently protect valuable cargo. Always ship electronics, monitors, and TV sets in shock-proof containers like these TV travel cases. Some parents feel comfortable giving their kids a car at this stage of life, others feel like it spoils them too much. I won’t say one way or the other, but I will say that you shouldn’t ever cosign a loan. If you can afford to buy a cheaper car with cash, that is preferable.
3. Find a Mentor
Help your child find a mentor who can help them navigate the process of entering the real world and can offer their support. Although your young adult may find it difficult to ask you for help, they’ll be more likely to seek the advice of someone who they respect and trust. Find someone that shares your child’s interests and can offer expertise with each step of the process.
4. Avoid “Rescuing” Your Child
It can be easy to limit how much your child matures into adulthood by trying to helicopter in and rescue them any time they need help. Your child may overdraft their account or lose their job, but it’s important to offer your input instead of repeatedly bailing them out. Before offering help, ask yourself this question: “Am I actually helping my child, or simply enabling them?” By avoiding the helicopter rescue, it will teach them how to think critically and learn to survive on their own.
Although it may be scary to allow your eagle to leave the nest, “An eagle that does not leave the nest is eventually known as a turkey” (Dave Ramsey). By providing your child with the right resources and guidance, you can have peace of mind knowing that they’ll thrive and become responsible, independent, and successful.