Don’t worry. The math is simple. 18 is the age when your child leaves for college. “X” is his / her current age. Subtract “X” from 18 and the answer you get is the number of years you have left with your “baby” under your roof and under your guidance. I nearly drove off the road when I calculated this simple math problem years ago! My answer was seven and it just wasn’t enough!
My son… whom I affectionately refer to, as “His Royal Highness” was 11 years old and I came to the shocking realization that I only had him home for 7 more years. Most of those would be the “dreaded teen years” and I wondered how much of his attention and allegiance would be toward his family versus his friends, school, sports, and of course the world of electronics. Where did all the time go? I had my first real panic attack and no brown bag to breathe in!
It took a good three days before I had a handle on my mathematical epiphany. I asked myself many questions. Had I been a good enough parent? Had I used my time well up until now? What more did I need to accomplish so he would be ready… really ready, to go out in to the world on his own?
I decided that I was a pretty good parent. My son got along well with other kids and adults, was polite (in public) and got great grades. But deep in my heart I knew that my husband and I needed to do more than these basics to truly prepare him for his future independence. We could only rely on schools to teach him how to pass academic tests. When it came to passing the tests of life, it was up to us as his parents to teach him. We had 7 years left to do our job and have His Royal Highness comprehensively prepared to go out in to the real world when he left for college at age 18.
But where was I to begin? I realized I had so much to accomplish and I wished I had started earlier. I wanted my son to learn simple tasks like laundry and ironing. He needed knowledge on how to manage a bank account, balance a checkbook, save and invest money responsibly, and understand the concept of restraint when using credit cards.
I wanted to teach him skills with which he could manage challenging emotions like anger, frustration, and disappointment, not only his own, but in difficult people that he would surely meet. He needed people skills and life skills. Leadership, initiative, motivation, the art of diplomacy, and altruism also made the list that grew and grew.
I made a sincere commitment to be not only a mom, but also a teacher and a coach. With each new day I would identify and utilize windows of opportunity to impart skills and knowledge on life that would help His Royal Highness to pass the tests of life. Experience, confidence and ability would be his to keep forever.
I chose to share my epiphany in this blog so that other parents can think about what life knowledge and life skills they would like to impart to their kids. The sooner you start the better because 18 – X is happening right now!
Please feel free to share your thoughts in our community forum.
Happiness to all!