Besides starting out a new school year, for many families this fall will be a time to get ready to launch a son or daughter into the next phase of life after high school. Think with your teen what they want to accomplish. The excitement and uncertainty your child may be feeling about these next steps may be mirrored in your own feelings of pride, concern, and maybe even relief. Growth and change affect everyone!
Listen to your son’s or daughter’s hopes and ambitions.
Whether or not these seem practical or desirable to you, listen for clues to your child’s dreams. Some are possible; some are exploration, trying out ideas.
Help your teen consider next possibilities—additional training, college, work, military, travel—and available resources. Does your teen’s high school offer good information and guidance—counselors, libraries, the Internet. . .? Take your cues from your child and consider what you can contribute to exploring and supporting ideas. Help think about formal and informal resources, and perhaps especially, personal contacts. Are there other adults or mentors in your child’s life who can advise? (Sometimes another adult can say things a parent can’t.) Also, remind teens they’ll need to come up with a response to that perennially trying question—“So, what are you going to do with your life?”
Learn how your teen hopes to achieve these next steps. Don’t take over but ask questions and show your interest. Help teens think about their strengths and how to convey these to people who don’t know them well (without sounding egotistical). Think also with teens about back-up plans and other options–sometimes life throws a curve ball. Help teens think about how to judge and handle setbacks as well as opportunities.
Consider best ways to manage problems or special needs your child may have.
What strategies have worked that could be applied to new situations? Ensure your child has as much say as possible over future plans. If your son or daughter will be “aging out” of some services or programs what new resources might be available? Some helpful resources can be found here: http://pathct.org/additional-resources/transition-to-adulthood/