I dropped my favorite girl off at college recently, and now I find myself rethinking everything and wondering if I told her and taught her everything she needs to know.
Just because your child has finished high school doesn’t mean the learning has stopped. Now it’s time to kick their preparation of how to handle “real life” into overdrive. Let me state that I understand not every child will go to college. These are life skills that apply whether you go to school or not.
- How to use credit cards responsibly. I remember the day so vividly I was first introduced to credit cards. I was a student at The University of Alabama, and there was a table set up with rows of two-liter Pepsis. All you had to do to get one was fill out a credit card application. I was a broke, hungry college student, so I filled out the application and took home my Pepsi. If only I had known the drama that was to follow, I would have never filled out that application. Hindsight is indeed 20/20. Before your child enters the real world, make sure he is educated about not only credit cards, but also the dangers of payday and title loans.
- How to pump gas and basic car maintenance. If the car your child is driving breaks down, does she know what to do other than call you? Can she change a tire? Does she know when the oil needs to be changed? Does he even know the car needs oil (and gas!) to run? If you’re used to filling your child’s car up and taking it for needed maintenance, maybe it’s time you hand over some of the responsibility.
- How to protect himself. As much as we shudder at the thought, there will come a day when our babies entertain the thought of drinking and having sex… Hang on for a second while I stop this panic attack. *Deep breath.* Okay, just like I was confronted with sex and alcohol as a teenager, my baby girl (emphasis on my baby) will be too. It’s our job as parents to prepare them for what to do if they are offered alcohol, drugs or sex. Let’s be honest, it’s not as simple as just saying no. To quote my book, The Pledge, “It’s easy to say what you won’t do when you don’t have temptation staring you in the face.” Equip your child with strategies for what to do if they find themselves in a comprising position, and while you’re at it, teach her how to be aware of her surroundings and how to defend herself if she receives unwanted advances or finds herself in a compromising position she wants to get out of.
- How to handle heartbreak. Although there are some situations they can’t fully understand until they experience them, kids need some groundwork for how to handle it when heartbreak comes, whether it’s dealing with a broken heart or having a valued friendship end. Our kids need to understand in life we go through seasons, and sometimes the relationships you valued in high school don’t always last. The ending of a friendship or relationship doesn’t mean the end of you. Teach your child how to use the situation to become better not bitter.
- What they believe and who they believe in. There will be a lot of experiences on the journey to adulthood where your child might question what they believe and who they believe in, or they might be asked to defend their beliefs. Do they truly have a relationship with God, or are they doing it because you are making them? If we are doing things right as parents, we only have them in our homes for short period of time, so we have to make sure they have a strong foundation and know where to go if they get off track. In the words of Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
What are some things you think kids should know before starting college?