As a goal-oriented person and a strategic planner, I automatically think about where my actions are going to take me. What is going to be the end result of the decisions I’m making?
Unfortunately, this hasn’t always kept me from making bad decisions – I can rationalize as well as anyone else 🙂
But having a ‘picture’ in my mind of the level of responsibilities and maturity my children would need to be successful young adults really helped me decide how to nurture them along in order to reach those goals.
About 10 years into our marriage, my husband and I started sitting down at the beginning of each year to discuss our family’s goals for the next year. It started off as a financial budgeting discussion and soon included an evaluation of our parenting process.
I’ll never forget one of our anniversary dinners when we had 2 teenagers in our house. We went out to a restaurant to celebrate and then spent most of the dinner trying to answer this question, ” What else do we need to be doing as parents to make sure that, when it’s time for our kids to move out of our home, they are ready to move out and be successful?” Those of you with teenagers realize why that discussion was so important to us. When our kids hit their mid-teens, it suddenly becomes very real that they are a few short years of needing to make a lot of important adult decisions on their own. Also when they are mid teens, they are pushing back enough for parents to start thinking that this moving out idea is going to be a good one 🙂
I remember looking at my son when he was around 10 years-old and asking myself if his level of maturity and decision-making was halfway to where he needed to be when he was 20 years old. (Looking back now, I think that kids should probably be even more than half-way at 10 because they take a couple of steps back during teenager-hood :)).
Fortunately for my son, the answer was yes – he was at least halfway. My strong-willed daughter was a no at 10 but she quickly caught up as soon as she focused her extremely strong will on the right things.
As a result, when each of them decided to leave our house, they left with a bag full of great values and decision-making skills that helped them make good choices. Neither one of them are perfect but they had a lot of experience at taking responsibility for their actions and they learned from the consequences.
Their ‘launch’ has been successful. They met and exceeded the goals we had for them! Now we get to see how they do at marriage and parenting!