words Alexa Wang
Independence can often feel like quite a difficult quality to teach your children. There’s a delicate balance to be struck between allowing the freedom to explore and also being available for support and guidance.
While it may be another aspect of parenthood that has the potential to be tricky, there are many ways in which you can support your teenager on their journey into adulthood.
A big thing that might hold your teen back from becoming independent is a reliance on you for transport. If your teen has a job or simply wants to go and see friends, having to ask you to help get them there can hold them back. Without their own means to get from A to B they’ll be unable to organise their time as they’d choose – and will have to work around you. Hardly the ideal recipe for independence.
Therefore, if your teen is of an age where they’re able to drive or ride a motorcycle – a great step is helping them to get a licence so they don’t need to rely on you for transportation. If it feels as though it could be a good fit for your teenager, they can take a CBT test and ride a moped or motorcycle on the road while preparing for a full test. This could be the perfect stepping stone towards becoming independent – just make sure they get bike insurance tailored for young riders before they get going.
Instilling the commitment in your older child to apply for and have a job outside of their school life can be important. This will help them learn the skills and discipline required to hold down a job and become financially independent in the future. After years of being in the education system, stepping into employment can be a dramatic cultural change – having experience of it before needing to take the responsibility on full-time will teach valuable life lessons.
Teach and discuss life skills
From learning how to help out around the house to managing finances, there’s a lot outside of the family home they’ll need to understand. Do they know how to cook, clean, use the washing machine or carry out basic repairs or DIY? Sending your teenager off into the world without these skills will mean they quickly come back for your help – teach something small each day and build their skills.
Waving your child off to their new life of independence without teaching them money management skills could have serious consequences. Teach how to manage a budget, the importance of savings and investments and the dangers of loans and credit cards – showing them how you make financial decisions and explaining your bills – and they’ll be in a solid position to become independent.
It’s important to try to make decisions with your child, and not on behalf of them – especially at this age. If they’re starting to think about big decisions such as further education and moving out – or even going to parties and staying out – it can be difficult to hold back on your own opinion. Try to refrain from attempting to guide or shape their decisions.
In order to develop independence of thought, older children should feel as though they can freely express their opinion without it being discounted – so have discussions and talk things through to help them come to a conclusion. Try to show them a level of trust, while making them aware of the responsibility that this brings.
You know your child better than anyone, so you’ll understand what they’re capable of and what they might need a little extra support with. Hopefully these tips will help you on the path to supporting independence in your older children.