What to teach your children before they move out
I once read a sign in a convenience store that said, “Hire a teenager — while they still know everything!”
There have been times when we thought we knew all there was to know, especially as teenagers growing through high school and college. These times were inevitably followed by the shock of realizing how much we had left to learn.
The longer we are parents, the more my husband and I are confident of two things: We wished we had listened to what our parents tried to teach us, and we wish we had been better teachers to our children.
We must give our children opportunities to see us model the behaviors we desire for them, and opportunities to practice and learn before they leave home.
These opportunities aren’t age dependent, either. Recently we asked our grown children, “What lessons did we leave out in our teaching?” They only mentioned two things, and both listed the same thing as number one. After hearing their thoughts, we were surprised that the things they mentioned, plus one more, were the same things on our list — and what we wished our parents had taught us.
Before your kids leave your direct influence, make sure you are modeling these skills, too. Then share them with your children while they’re in high school and before they leave for college or a career. Discipline takes work, but it will be an investment for your entire family.
What to Teach Your Kids Before They Leave the House as Adults
1. Teach your children how to manage money.
This was the number one our children told us we left out: understanding where the gift of money comes from and how Jesus intends we use it for His glory and our good. Not understanding this cost us and our children dearly.
Teach your children:
- Jesus is faithful to provide. Jesus tells us to give Him back 10 percent of His blessings in what we call the tithe (Malachi 3:10). When we do, Jesus promises more blessings.
- Wealth comes from Jesus. He gives us opportunities to make it and be caretakers of it (Deuteronomy 8:17-18).
- Money is a tool. Through the church, it’s something Jesus uses to minister to individuals and communities, locally and around the world. He wants us to be cheerful and generous givers (2 Corinthians 9:7).
- Crafting and living by a budget removes anxiety. Help your kids create a budget and live by it.
- Debt steals joy. Borrowing to live outside the resources Jesus provides will bring heartache (Proverbs 22:7). Show your kids how to save to meet their needs.
- Jesus will provide enough as we manage what He gives (Proverbs 11:24).
2. Teach your children to see how consequences follow decisions.
Explaining consequences is important, but sometimes kids don’t listen to their parents — shocking! It was hard to let our children make mistakes, but in general, they learned from them.
Making good decisions takes lots of practice. You can help your children by:
- Sharing that Jesus is ready and able to guide their choices if they ask (Proverbs 3:5-6).
- Having “what if” discussions. Ask what might happen if they poke the dog with a stick, break promises, or cheat on a test. These pre-decision action reviews help develop a pattern of thinking before acting. It gives them confidence for making the next decision.
- Teaching that actions are always followed by consequences. Consequences can be costly, both for short and long term. Speeding because it’s fun and feels powerful can certainly cost money for a ticket. It could also cost the loss of life.
- Reinforcing, rewarding, and remarking on good choices and the good consequences that please us rather than grieve us.
3. Teach your children how to find true joy and peace.
The third thing we failed to teach our daughter and son was what we gain being with a community of believers. Checking off perfect church attendance is not the same as having a daily, intimate relationship with God. Knowing about Jesus does not equal intimacy with Him. The Bible says, “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6).
As a result, we learned that:
- Choosing friends who have a relationship with Jesus means accountability, support during the rough times, and growing in faith together.
- Reading the Bible daily is how we learn who Jesus is and who He wants us to be (Psalm 119:105, John 5:39-40). Read it with and to them. Relate Bible stories to their lives right now.
- Praying with them as they grow beyond “nighty-night” prayers reminds them prayer is simply how we connect with Jesus.
- Being obedient to all Jesus has shown us brings intimacy, true joy, and peace that is unaffected by circumstances (Philippians 4:6-7).
These are only three broad areas to discuss with your students before they leave home and begin a life apart from you. But with these three, they will be better equipped to make a living and make a difference!