Some days I wish my kids would never grow up, and other days I'm amazed at the fascinating young adults that live with me. I've known the day would come when I would have to let my little birds fly the nest, but I have to be honest - I've been avoiding the subject. I'm not ready for any of them to leave. I don't like change.
However, the mission that has been assigned me is not one of raising individuals that grow into kid-ults. I'm tasked to raise young people who will grow into productive members of society. Since everyone consists of three main elements: body, mind, and spirit, it's important to cultivate all three before your children leave the nest.
Ready to Launch: Physically
As a homeschooler, it's easy to focus all of your teaching attention on reading, writing, and arithmetic. However, if those brilliant kids don't know how to take care of themselves, they'll struggle out in the real world making it because they lack basic life skills. As hard as it seems, we want our kids to grow out of needing us. You can't take your mother to college with you after all! Here are some important life skills to consider:
- Can they cook a meal? Plan a menu? Shop for groceries?
- Do they do their own laundry? And put it away? Iron clothes for a special event?
- Do they manage their own money? Balance a checkbook? Pay for their insurance?
- Can they drive a car? Navigate to important locations? Use wisdom in chauffeuring others?
- Do they know how to clean a toilet? Wash dishes? Mop a floor?
Some of these skills seem obvious, but it can be easy to overlook the basics in favor of higher pursuits. Equipping your students with these basic skills will set them up to thrive not only in a career pursuit but also in everyday life.
Ready to Launch: Mentally
It's so easy to get lost in the business of high school life. As they get older, kids have more friends, activities, and work, so it's really easy to neglect the necessary steps for getting into college and financing the endeavor. My niece, who is a Senior this year, came to me a month ago asking for SAT help, and I feel like I got a huge wake-up call about the realities of my Sophomore's status in all of this college prep madness.
If I can simply take it one step at a time, the journey can be enjoyable and not madness. I think every parent of a middle school or high school student should own: High School Prep Genius - An Academic Guide to Excellence. This book walks parents and students through a plan for success. With attainable goals for each year, students can be ready to tackle college entry exams and fill out necessary applications for admissions and scholarships.
I'm so excited to get my head out of the sand and start walking with confidence through these last few years of schooling with my kids. This doesn't discount the basics. They still need to be able to read, write, and do arithmetic. I'm just thankful that now I have a guide to help me through the unfamiliar territory!
Ready to Launch: Spiritually
As much as I want my kids to be able to function in the world with wonderful productive jobs, it all pales in comparison to my desire for them to love the Lord and live like they really mean it.
In Larry Fowler's book, he compares the life of Joseph with the life of the prodigal son. My sister gave me this book to read about five years ago, and it really fascinated me. When you think of Jacob's son Joseph and how he was sold into slavery at such a young age, it's remarkable to think that he chose to love and serve God.
It's easy to fear letting your kids go to make their own decisions and live their own life. It's understandable that they will fail and struggle. If you could do anything right now to fortify their faith, would you?
Here are some key life threads that your kids should have a good grip on before they leave your home:
- Respect: God is the ultimate authority. We should respect Him.
- Wisdom: God is the ultimate Truth. We should listen to Him.
- Grace: God offers us grace and mercy. We should offer the same to others.
- Destiny: God created us for a purpose. We should seek it out.
- Perspective: God is in control. We should develop an eternal perspective.
Launching isn't about if, it's about when and how. From the moment they enter our homes, they're on their way out. My dad used to always say that his children were on loan to him from the Lord. As a good steward of what has been given to me, I want to prepare my children in the best way I know how to be productive citizens not only of their earthly home, but also their heavenly home.
How are you preparing your children to leave the nest?