I have 6 months…yes, that’s it, just 6 months until my 17 year old daughter leaves home.
It can’t have gone that quickly!
What will I do without her?
I can’t face this!
I’m not ready!
More importantly – is she ready?
So what can I do? How do I make sure that she is?
I’m lucky that I have fabulous friends who have been through this and offered some advice.
We often assume that our kids automatically know how their home country works, but if your kids were born in a foreign country or have lived there for a number of years – don’t assume anything! Their experience of the money may have been with pocket money on annual trips to see grandparents! Their experience of the weather may have only been during the Summer! How familiar are they with currency? My kids announced recently that something was so cheap in the uk because it was only £10! I asked them what that was in dirhams and when they converted, they weren’t so impressed! So this article has an “Expat” slant to it.
10 categories to focus on for expat teens leaving home.
- Safety & security
- Domestic & practical skills
- Managing a Budget
- Friendships & relationships
1.Safety & security – Is your teen aware of their own safety and security? It’s probably something you have automatically done for them up until now. From locking up, keeping valuables safe, personal safety and changing batteries in smoke alarms, to cyber security, scams and how to deal with emergencies. Organising and keeping safe personal and academic records (medical, insurance, etc.) and keeping track of all Internet accounts, including logins and passwords is something they may not be familiar with. Getting them prepared in these areas will allow you to sleep sound.
2.Health – Does your teen know how to self-diagnose simple illnesses and buy over the counter medicines? Do they know what stage to consult a Doctor and how to make an appointment? Are they aware of their mental health and when to seek support? The dangers of casual sex, alcohol and drugs are often taught in schools, but they suddenly have access to these and teaching them to make responsible decisions will help.
3.Resilience – Leaving home is tough and once the excitement has worn off they have to be able to spend time on their own with no family or old friends around them to lean on. This will require mental toughness
“Teach them how to spend time on their own.”
4.Cooking – can they cook a selection of quick, cost effective meals? Can they create a shopping list from a menu so that they only buy what they need and don’t leave things rotting in the communal fridge!
5.Domestic & practical skills – Does your teen know how to wash, dry and iron clothes? What about vacuuming, dusting and cleaning a toilet?
6.Managing a Budget – Make sure your teen knows how to live within a budget, and understands the pitfalls of using credit irresponsibly. How much will they have a week and what do they have to spend that on? Do they know how to open a bank account? Are they familiar with the currency and exchange rates if they’re an expat comparing with the currency they are used to.
8.Communications – Phone calls/bills/mail – Can they phone a stranger and speak to them? Research, purchase and/or return goods and products? Ask for help? Say no respectfully, and when to say yes! Being able to carry on a conversation with adults will help your child with their University Tutors, Advisors and potential employers. Finally, agreeing when and how they will keep in contact with home BEFORE they go, can take the pressure off the teen and prevent parents being left disappointed!
9.Friendships & Relationships – Friends influence us more than we care to admit. Help your teen learn to assess whether someone is a good friend who will help him/her to be their best. Discuss what to look out for and discuss transient friendships. Building good professional relationships that may last a life time are often critical to success so encourage them to surround themselves with people they can learn with and from. We’ll leave the boyfriend/girlfriend discussions to you!
10.Work/study – We nearly forgot why they’re there in the first place!!! To have success in University or in a job, one has to know how to be punctual, stay on task and pay attention to the details. Are they an independent learner? They won’t have you on their case checking their homework or if they’re studying etc, they need to be responsible. The earlier this starts the better.
We hope this has given you some food for thought, it certainly has me!
I love checklists!
I’ve created a checklist to help, I hope you find it useful. Download it below and please comment if there’s anything else that could be added – thanks!
By Katie Meneely
If you have any advice to add to the list we welcome your views and if you feel you need support around this issue, we have Life Coaches available for Students and Parents alike. Read about them here