Ron and Judy love their 26-year-old
son Jim. Unfortunately, whenever Jim calls
his parents, they cringe. "Will he
ask for more money?" Judy asks. Ron
replies, "What do you mean, if? The
question is, how much this time?"
Linda visits her mother to ask for help
cooking a dinner and baking a dessert. Linda's
mother doesn't understand how Linda could
be so incompetent in the kitchen. She thinks,
"I always cooked and baked. How could
she not have learned these skills?"
Tom's daughter is very overweight and
she never exercises. "She is now 22
years-old and even though she never exercised,
now that she is getting older she must begin,"
says Tom. "I never exercised because
I always worked and didn't have time."
Tom is also somewhat overweight.
All three of these sets of parents have a
similar problem. Their grown children have
not developed basic life skills. To avoid
these problems with your own children, become
proactive and develop a "Parent Plan."
A parent plan is a family blueprint, representing
a vision of the values and skills you would
like to instill in your children. Before you
get started, consider the following questions:
Where would you like to see your children
when they are 25 years old?
-Employed or unemployed?
-Living at home with you, or out on
-Married, single or divorced?
-Paying their own debts or having you
-Taking responsibility for their own
mistakes, or dependent upon others?
What legacy would you like to instill
in your children?
It is crucial to teach children how to function
effectively in the ever-changing real world.
This means planning. A parent plan involves
creating a positive environment where your
children can learn desired values by your
Valuable Life Skills
Model the behavior you would like your
children to inherit
Provide choices to encourage decision-making
Have your children write the monthly checks.
It will benefit them to learn how to write
checks, and to understand monthly household
Help budget their homework time, including
periodic rest breaks
Serve healthy meals
Verbalize your thought processes to provide
your children with the opportunity to hear
how you solve problems. Ask for their insight.
Time management is an example of how to
apply this principle. Let's say you have
an appointment somewhere at 9:00. Work backwards
from this time. Explain to your child that
it is a 30-minute ride; a stop at the drug
store will take 10 minutes, and it will
take will 15 minutes for you to get ready.
What time should you start getting ready?
Explain why you use certain stores. Why
do you patronize your bank,
or a particular dry cleaner or grocery store?
For example, you might say you like the
service you receive at this bank, or the
lack of service you received elsewhere caused
you to change banks.
Set your limits and boundaries.
Encourage your children to plan a meal
or prepare a dessert once a week.
Going back to our three sets of parents in
the introduction to this article, let's consider
how they may have done things differently.
Perhaps Ron and Judy never talked about finances
with Jim when he was younger. Jim may have
never had control over his allowance or his
own money. In many homes, finances are never
discussed. Therefore, Jim may have never learned
about expenses or budgeting.
Even though Linda's mother could cook and
bake, we wonder if she ever took the time
to teach Linda how to cook. Or perhaps she
was critical every time Linda helped out in
the kitchen. Do not expect traits to be picked
up by observation alone. We need to take the
time to teach.
Tom had a poor excuse for not exercising,
and never modeled the behavior he desired
for his daughter. Where did he think she would
learn to live a healthy lifestyle?
A parent plan is crucial for preparing your
child for the real world. What do you want
to pass along to your children? What would
you like your children to say about your parenting
when they are 25 years old? The time to be
setting goals and implementing your plan is
now, while your children are still young.
Derek and Gail Randel have customized
programs for corporations, schools, and parent
groups for putting the fun back into parenting
so you can enjoy your children. They also
have a free parenting newsletter through their
web site, and a parent consulting service.
The Randels are the authors of The Parent
Manual and Bittersweet Moments. They can be
reached at Parent Smart from the Heart 1-866-89-SMART,