I view parenting as four main phases:
- Taking care of a baby
- Raising a child
- Preparing a young adult
- Supporting an adult
We’ve recently started shifting into phase 3 with our oldest, which is new territory for us! I reached out to friends and family who are seasoned pros in this area and received incredible advice.
One initiative that Justin’s parents implemented in their family was something called a “Launch List.” It’s a checklist of life skills that they wanted their six children to learn before they moved out to live on their own. They made it a habit of teaching and practicing these skills as a family, as well as with each individual child. Some of the items include: operating laundry machines, changing a tire, following a recipe, saving/investing, cleaning a toilet, etc.
I absolutely loved this idea. I think it’s a simple, yet effective tool in nurturing independence. Justin and I adapted the original list for our family to include more about social health and use of modern technology. We also included blank spaces for our kids to add their own ideas. Get the list here– LAUNCH LIST – FINAL (1)
Our approach was to start with our son when he turned 12. We took him to dinner, just the three of us, so we could have a focused, meaningful discussion. We told him how proud we were of everything he has learned and accomplished up until this point in his life, and that we want him to be as prepared as possible for his future. We read through the list and checked off the skills he had already mastered—it really helped build his confidence seeing how self-reliant he is already! He even added a few of his own goals on the blank lines. We then made a plan for how we will attack each remaining skill; dividing sections by the parent who will teach them, and creating a basic timeline.
If the Launch List is something you want to do with your kids, you will know the best time to introduce it. And remember, it is never too late to start! If you already have older teens, or kids that have flown the nest, this is something that will greatly benefit them.
If it seems daunting to tackle all of these tasks with them, just remember OATS:
-Try, try, try again
Your kids will pick up a lot by simply observing you do a task. Invite them to watch, then to attempt it themselves. Encourage them to continue trying, and monitor them as needed. Through this practice, they will build faith in themselves, and have less anxiety moving forward.
It can be bittersweet watching our children grow. Let us move into each phase with excitement and confidence in both them, and ourselves.