It’s Graduation Season Again: How We Prepared Our Son For Independent Living

Remember back to when your first child was born. It was the great unknown, wasn’t it? We devoured parenting books and searched for advice. We attended mommy groups and everything was so new and exciting. Now that our babies are grown, we are right back at the great unknown!

Through the early years of parenting, we have time to watch our children’s personalities develop and be intentional while teaching them about life. As they approach adulthood, I think we have just as much to teach them about, just as much to invest in them but, the time with them is shorter.

You know how many books are written to parents of young children? Countless! How many books are written to parents of young adults, graduating and heading out into the world? Not many at all. We are in no less need of information and counsel for walking with our children into this next phase of their lives than when they were newborns.

What makes this season of parenthood so unique that we don’t have the resources that we once had to guide us? Maybe it is because this isn’t a sudden transition after all. We have been with them, walking beside them for 17-18 years. But now it is being made “official” as they receive their diplomas and they take that big step into “adulting”. Just because they are moving on doesn’t mean that our days of influence are over.

The rest of the world may go wonky. Their friends, jobs and dreams may come and go but you, dear mother, will always be there for your adult child. Your heart will always be drawn to them, so keep the communication lines open. Let them know when you are thinking about them. Send them a verse when the Lord brings one to your mind in relation to your child. The gifts you give and the ways you invest can continue to speak life and be filled with godly wisdom.

Encourage your children to be teachable beyond the academic years and to surround themselves with friends who will honor God’s word.

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

As of this writing, we have successfully launched four of our arrows into the world. Each one has taken their own unique path. Looking back, I can see how each of their personalities and abilities were perfectly suited to take them precisely to where they are now.

When our oldest turned 18 and graduated, we had to really think through the next season with him. Being parents of an adult was just as new to us as being an adult was new to him! Caleb was planning on living at home for a few years and pursing a career. Because he still lived with us, yet was an adult, we had to navigate what that would look like overall in the functioning of our home. We gave him the summer “off” just as he would have had if he was college bound and then in the fall, we began charging him a small rent.

Paying rent was not a full ride, he still had responsibilities to contribute to the family economy, like doing dishes, mowing the lawn and babysitting from time to time. Each month as I collected the rent, I deposited it into a special bank account. Secretly, we were starting a “move out” savings for him. Our goal in parenting had always been to prepare our children for a successful launch into adulthood. We felt that having rent due would develop life skills when it came to budgeting and money management.

Inevitably, that day came when Caleb questioned why he had to pay rent to live at home, in the only home he had ever known. Though we had discussed collecting rent, and why we were requiring it, we had not told him what our plans were for the money. It was at this time we sat down and shared with him even further. The rent being collected and deposited into a special fund was for his benefit. We were able to go over the costs of setting up an apartment and living on his own month to month. When he realized the financial cost of starting out on his own, he was thankful for our provision. Writing a check to me each month actually started feeling like a budgeting dream for him in comparison to the load he would bear later in life.

Quite frankly, there were some rough weeks (maybe even stretching into a month) where he was not carrying his weight. I let him know that during the months that he was not doing his part, a portion or all of the rent was not going to be put in the move out fund. For the times that he was slacking, the rent money went straight to mom’s bank account as payment for maid and chef service. He agreed and understood that as an adult though he would always be our son, he had to be fully responsible for himself.

When the time came for him to move out, he felt fully equipped. We had so much fun taking a trip to IKEA and a few other stores to get everything he needed to set up an apartment. At the end of our shopping I was able to pay with his “move out fund” leaving extra still in the bank. Over the next year as he adjusted to paying for completely everything in his life, he knew there was a little slush fund if he needed it. When he encountered an unexpected dental bill, he chose to close out his move out fund with me and has never asked for a dollar since!

I want to share with you a “Post Graduate Covenant” that I made for our adult children living at home. It’s always easier to edit than to create! So, if you want to take the basics of this and tweek it to make it yours, feel free. Maybe this will get you started as you think through launching your young adults.

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