A long time ago, when my oldest daughter who will be sixteen in a few weeks was around ten (!!!), I wrote a blog post about some of the things I hoped to impart to her. In this post, I talked about how since my mother died when I was young, she never had a chance to talk to me about any of the things about navigating being a teenager or young adult, so I felt as if this conversations were really important and how I hoped to layer in discussion over time.
Since then, my surprise is that many women whose mothers were or are alive also didn’t receive ANY direction or guidance about navigating being a young adult! There were no discussions on how to navigate choosing a career, finances, living on one’s own, choosing a partner for life, raising children, creating a family. It was almost as if the child or teen would pick it up by osmosis, or figure it out for him or herself. It rather floors me!
I had a little list in the blog post I linked above, and like to think I have imparted some guidance on each of these areas at this point. This is very personal to our family since it includes living as an Episcopalian and in accordance with our baptismal vows since this is our family’s faith and often influences our politics as well; the foundation of Christian life; talks about marriage and children; serving others; boundaries; respecting oneself; healthy communication; the facets of health including whole food nutrition, homeopathy , herbs, movement and chiropractic care and how a woman changes throughout the life span; money and finances. You can come up with your own list based on your own family’s values, and that is really much of the fun! What do you think is super important that your teen needs to know to thrive in our world as a young adult?
Lately, we have been focusing on finance and insurance. Personal finance can be an area that is difficult for parents to discuss with teens. Sometimes it comes up when a teen gets a job and opens a bank account or has to save for a large purchase such as a car. However, it is also wonderful to talk about saving and types of saving, contributing to charities, and types of insurance that one has to carry, and how finances change over the life span. One thing I have recently pointed out to my oldest is that many people my age (47) don’t have much in the way of savings for retirement because either they weren’t interested in that in their 20s and 30s or life happened and much of the savings is now gone or that they really went out and bought too large a house and too many new things when they were starting out. Some people my age are also still saddled under large student loans from college. So, I have stressed that is important to start saving even in your teens and throughout the 20s and 30s and ways to free up enough money to do this (one: don’t live above your means!). One resource some homeschooling moms of teens use to discuss finance are the free materials from The Actuarial Foundation. Such things as developing a budget and the use of credit (or not) can also be discussed. Credit ratings for buying a home is another area of interest. The other point we have been talking about includes all types of insurance. Many parents discuss car insurance with their teen drivers, but often don’t talk about homeowners insurance, medical insurance, life insurance ( and the difference between whole and term insurance), disability insurance, and long-term care insurance. We plan to use the personal finance things in eleventh grade, so that should be interesting.
In the last few years my teen will be home, I also want to talk more about choosing a partner in life and the course of marriage. I find this is one area in which many women say they received absolutely no guidance other than they would date and fall in love…and from there, things were rather nebulous. What traits should one look for in a spouse? Why do some marital relationships fail over time and why do others thrive? What boundaries should one have in intimate relationships? What really does make a marriage thrive? How do marriages change if you have children? Some resources I have found include the “Boundaries” book series, (this is Christian, and I am certain there most be secular versions of this type of material). The Gottman Institute also has a number of good articles on their blog and in their books regarding this subject. I also have plans to discuss some of the concepts in this article and some things about narcissism as many women my age are telling me they are married to narissists or have identified their own fathers as one.
The other area of focus I am also thinking about recently includes child development, developing a family culture, taking care of a home, and how to guide children by developmental stage. This is, of course, something that has been modeled all of these years, but I think it is important to say it in words and to really talk about it. We will be doing health this year, so some of these facets will be part of our health class.
I would love to hear what you are talking about to your teen lately! If you have found any great articles or resources that would be a terrific springboard for discussion with daughters, I would love to hear about it!