New Grad: What Parents Can Do For Their Teen Now

When 85% of college grads are living at home, I’m reminded of what my wife and I told told our two sons about the purpose of parenting: to teach them how to leave home and not come back.

Years later my two sons are not living with their parents and have never asked for an hand-out.

Okay, I’m bragging, but here’s a lesson I humbly relate.

Here’s what parents can do while their kids are still in high school: create a mind-set with an objective, a way of thinking where the objective is taken for granted. I’ll get to the objective below, but first…

To seed the mind-set requires a lot of  thought-out comments that are spread around and sound like off-the-cuff remarks, such as, “I’ll bet you can’t wait to get out of the house and be on your own!” Or, “Lucky for you, you won’t be living with mom and dad someday, and that will be sooner than you think. Is that cool or what?!”

Special Note: Be sure to get enthusiastic agreement. Use this tried-and-true technique: repetition.

The timing couldn’t be better: the  teenage years. On occasion I would ask my teens if their dad was still the dumbest adult they ever knew, and the answer was always the same.

I got it: they were convinced that their right as teens to make my life miserable was truly a gift from God.

Instead of being the over-reactive parent whose ego was being grounded into a fine powder everyday, I would simply validate their sentiments: “Wouldn’t you love to have your own place, to come and go and as you please, instead of me telling you when to be home, or reminding you to eat your vegetables?”

I poured it on whenever the moment was right.

I made sure my response was unexpected. If they threatened to move out because they had to get chores done, I’d suggest I’d pay for the move. I was assuring myself that speaking to my kids in this manner was far better than catering to their every whim.

Critical point: I didn’t want to be best friends with my children.

My inspiration came in my college years from the 13th century philosopher, St Thomas Aquinas, who remarked in this paraphrase, “A father is the master of his child in the first ten years of life, then his teacher for the next ten, and his friend thereafter.”

My sons are my best friends. The seeds their parents planted grew independent individuals who are surviving and thriving on their own.

What’s the mind-set’s objective? Tell your offspring that they will be going to college when they come home for the summer. Summer will not be just for rest and relaxation – that’s for combat troops in Iraq and Afghanistan; there is no equivalence.

Two courses at a local college where credit is transferable to their own college. Result? Graduate from college in three years.

Screaming all the right signals to employers after graduating in three years? Work ethic! Determined! Focused! Ambitious! From a college population where sixty-three percent (63%) of grads take five and six years to get a bachelor’s.

Your child will inspire an employer’s only relevant question in an interview: “When can you start?”

You can start creating this mind-set so that everyone wins. Parents get to spend less for college and your student gets into the work force a year sooner. Being part of the 15% who doesn’t linger in college is doable.

Note that I never mentioned the advantages of taking AP courses or taking CLEP tests. But what’s discussed here can be done by any student.
To get more weaponized information on getting out of college in three years, click here.


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