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Navigating the Road From Teen to Adult


*Disclaimer: I have three teens and zero adult children. I'm only guessing and copying what I see has worked for others before me. Follow at your own risk.

The Smockity Family is navigating new territory these days, the road that leaves the teen years behind and embraces adulthood.

We have 3 teens now!

And we have no idea what we're doing.

Well, we have ideas that we have seen others implement, but that's all we've got. No handbook. No map. No guarantees.

And it's kind of scary. But isn't all parenthood that way? New, untraveled?

We know what our goals are:

Toward those ends, in particular toward the responsible adult goal, we try to let our teens make many of their own decisions and reap the benefits or suffer the consequences. Of course, we are taking an incremental approach and allowing more decisions to be made as they get older.

We realize that one day very soon these teens, who will be adults, will be making all of their own decisions, whether we approve or not. So, right now we are trying to walk them through these decisions, while not restricting them, and talk about possible or probable outcomes, consequences, and rewards that may come from those decisions.

Recently, one of our teens stated that he felt a requirement we were putting forth was unfair to him. We listened to his opinion, considered it, and my husband very calmly told him the choices he had. In this case, since the requirement in question was a school assignment, the choices consisted of completing it as asked or giving up all extra-curricular activities for a month.

Happily, the assignment was completed and no teens perished in the excruciating rigors of it.

Our teens are aware that living in a house that you do not own comes with responsibilities on the part of the "tenant". The traditional tenant would pay rent in exchange for room and board. In our case, we expect our "tenants" to do chores, participate in family events, and be pleasant roommates. If those expectations seem oppressive, we expect them to find other living arrangements when they are of legal age.

We do have a very jolly relationship most of the time with our teens, but occasionally we butt heads, and they come to know that, although one day very soon they will be able to decide for themselves whether they would follow our chosen course of action, that day is not today.