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Is Your Graduate Ready For The World?
by Kim Romen, MSW, LCSW

Are you the proud parent of a young adult graduating from high school or college? This is a big step in your child’s life, especially with all of today’s pressures and challenges. Is your graduate ready for adulthood? Are you confident that your child will make wise decisions for their future? 

The teen years can be exciting times to learn, explore, and grow, but they can also be a tough time of life. Teens experience rapid changes physically, socially, intellectually, and emotionally. Hormones and peers are running wild and there are so many different influences in our children’s lives, that even though it can seem like our teens are more interested in friends right now, they also need strong, loving parental involvement.  

Today's youth are faced with many tough choices about behaviors, values and goals. Adults can help prepare youth to make good, healthy choices. Open communication is vital to healthy parent- child relationships. Here are some tips to help you communicate with your adolescent about decision-making:

Be a good role model. Teens will respect and listen to what you tell them more seriously if you live the advice that you give them.

Listen.  Try to get them to talk about their feelings. If your teen sees that you are sincerely listening to what they have to say and trying to understand their feelings they will be more likely to come to you to talk about problems.

Come up with choices, pros and cons together.  Encourage your teen to see the big picture and see that there may be more than one solution to an issue. Help them to take other people’s feelings into consideration.

Teach your teen how to seek out accurate information. Take them to the library and take them to the library and research colleges and careers with them. Give them the tools and encouragement to speak to people in the areas of work they are interested in. Help get them excited about the process. Don’t put down their ideas.

Learn when to let go.  There are the obvious things that parents should not allow, but it’s also important to decide which battles to choose. Pretty soon they will be out of the house and will be making their own decisions. A parent’s job is to nurture, teach, and prepare them for adulthood.  If we, as parents, are overbearing, controlling, or critical, teens will not come to us for advice or may do things that we don’t want them to without our knowledge.

Discuss how things turned out afterwards.  Let this be a time where they can be open, receive positive feedback from you, and they can talk about how they might have done things differently.
There is certainly a time for limits and consequences, but the teen years are a time of learning how to be an adult.  In order to do that, teens should be given certain freedoms as the parent sees the child is becoming more responsible. Kids are growing up fast now-a-days and it’s our job to love and guide them, and then allow them to walk on their own as we did when they were learning to walk as babies.

Article written by Kim Romen, MSW, LCSW. Published in the Ahwatukee Foothills News on May 22, 2008.

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