Before you know it, he will be out the door and taking his first steps into adulthood. Before you know it, your job as mom will radically change, from mom of a teenager to mom of a young adult. Before you know it, your little baby will be all grown up. So, before that “before you know it” time arrives, seize the present moment to connect with your teenager as you both prepare for his transition to college. Whether your teenager is an enthusiastic conversationalist or a monosyllabic grunter, these three conversations are critical to have before he spreads his wings to fly from the nest.
1. Be wise. Selecting a college and planning well regarding money all requires a great deal of wisdom. Sit down together to think through the options and model good decision-making skills that she can take with her into the future. Arm yourself with key principles and practical resources regarding college choices by using the powerful insights from college counselor Janet Johnson you’ll find in “College Prep Pointers.” And ready your child to be a smart steward of her money by putting into place some of the principles suggested by financial expert Mary Hunt in “Dollars and Sense.”
2. Hang on to faith. Statistics abound regarding Christian kids who abandon their faith in college. What makes the difference? How can your child stay strong in his commitment to Christ? Talk with your child about how he can connect with a strong Christian community on his campus (such as plugging into a campus club and a local church) or, if he’s attending a Christian college, discuss ways he can benefit from the spiritual resources, friends, and potential mentors he’ll interact with there. But guess what, Mom: some of the most powerful means of helping your child hang on to faith when he’s in college start now while he’s still in your home. Dr. Kara E. Powell’s “Parenting Doesn’t End with Graduation” will point you toward critical ways you can invest today and in the future to help your child’s faith “stick.”
3. I love you. This conversation needs little explanation, other than this: clearly and repeatedly communicate to your child the depth of your love for her. Use words, give a hug, share a laugh—whatever it is that will help your child know your love will always be there, no matter what she may face in the days ahead.
These are more than just one-time conversations. Start them, continue them, and pray through them. Getting your child ready for college and adulthood is a huge transition—not just for him but also for you! As you consider how his life will change, be sure to think through how your own life will transition in the years ahead. In “When the Kids Move Out,” Jim Killiam offers insights for how to prepare yourself for the joys and challenges of the empty nest.
Most importantly, though, is the ongoing conversation between you and the Lord—the Father who will be by your child’s side when she leaves your home and will be faithful wherever she goes in this life. This conversation will be an ongoing, lifelong prayer that never requires a closing “amen.”
Beyond the Birds and the Bees
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