Finishing school? How you can help your child grow up
It is the final milestone of childhood. That moment when they graduate from the compulsory education system can feel incredible. All that hard work raising your child has paid off. All those hours of helping with homework. All those months of nagging them to revise, and now they are all grown up and about to venture out into the world. Mature, responsible adults? Maybe. Perhaps there is still more we can do to help our children flourish out there.
If your child excelled academically, chances are they will be offered the opportunity to further their studies. University is not cheap, and the lifestyle is not right for everybody. However, a degree can be a stepping-stone to specialist training and education for a range of careers, and there are still plenty of companies looking for graduates of any subject to join them as fast-tracked trainees.
Funding a degree is not something an eighteen-year-old can do alone. The parents will always be needed to help cover the cost of living and a fair chunk of the fees too. Paying for your child’s education can save them decades of debt once they graduate. Unfortunately, we’re not all in a position to be able to help that way. So what can you do?
They might be able to live at home whilst they study? You could even downsize your home now your child has grown up and moved to University. These are big commitments for you, though, and there is never a guarantee that they will be able to graduate. If more education isn’t an option now, it may be more suitable in a few years time.
Many children have had enough of education by the time they reach eighteen, but that doesn’t mean they’re ready for the real world of working just yet. Some very generous parents are able to offer their children the opportunity to take a gap year, some young people fund their own through savings made from part time work. This year may be spent travelling the world to gain some valuable life experience.
To fund a gap year, you need to start with an open return ticket. There may be occasions when cash injections may be needed. Accidents and thefts happen, so make sure you have an emergency fund to help if something does go wrong for your child. It can be heart-wrenching to say goodbye to your baby for a year, but sometimes it’s what young people need to do!
It is usually expected that the traveller will find casual work along the way to cover the cost of food and accommodation. There will, of course, be plenty of occasions when they need to rough it. Don’t feel obliged to intervene. It’s all part of the gap year experience.
The people you know could be the best source of a great career for your child. It’s very difficult to get a good job these days that has fantastic career prospects, but if your child is ready to step into the world of employment, you may be able to steer them in the right direction. Introduce them to the people you know in the career fields your child is interested in. Sometimes a quick chat can lead to big things.
You may also be able to help your child apply for a new job. Look over their CV, if it feels a bit thin, see if you can help your child find some voluntary positions to bolster it. Hobbies and interests speak volumes for a prospective employer. For example, a keen interest in sports shows team working and social skills. A budding musician is able to direct his own work and progress.
Paying for a professional careers service can also help open doors. This can be particularly handy if your child doesn’t really know what direction they want to head in. Aptitude tests may reveal some interesting options that could lead to something your child may love. Interview skills are also something that needs to be practiced to ensure success too.
Many teenagers love the idea of having their own set of wheels. It gives them the freedom to socialise more and visit places of interest at their own convenience. It also sees the end of the Mum’s Cab Service. You may think it will also mean you can go to bed at a sensible hour instead of picking them up from the nightclub at closing time, but as any parent will tell you, there’s no sleeping until you know your baby is home safe!
However, there are plenty of advantages for car ownership. It ensures that they can get to their place of work and back, regardless of your commitments. It also means they won’t be out drinking! It will also teach them the value of money when it comes time to filling the tank. Owning a car is often the first time young people have to consider the true cost of a social life. Responsibility is a great thing to learn and this could be a good way to do it.
If you are buying your son or daughter a car, you probably want the very best your budget can buy. However, insurance companies will charge a fortune for young, inexperienced drivers. Anything other than a small engined, mini-sized vehicle will be very expensive. When you’re choosing a car for you child, make sure you do the used car history checks to ensure the vehicle isn’t stolen or a write-off. You should also ask someone with mechanical experience to check it over.
It’s rare for eighteen-year-olds to move out of the parental home unless they’re heading to University. After all, the cost of renting property and all the energy bills far exceeds most people’s salary. However, your son or daughter might want to flat-share with friends so they can gain some independence. This should be encouraged, but it will be a burden for you if they’re not employed.
Another alternative is to buy them a small flat and have them cover as much of the mortgage as they can. Going Guarantor used to be the only way young people could get on the property ladder. These days it’s even tougher. It is best if you are able to plough a substantial deposit into your investment, and if you can encourage your child to sublet a room, the prospect should be more affordable. Speak to your mortgage advisor about the best options for your circumstances.
Moving out of home is a big deal for a young adult. Learning to fend for oneself is not without its challenges. You may see a lot of laundry suddenly appear, or food disappearing from your fridge from time to time. One of the biggest annoyances is the lack of tidying a cleaning. When you visit your son or daughter, be prepared to roll your sleeves up! Of course, not all our kids are messy, and some may even be rather house proud.
At eighteen, the world opens up and your child will be meeting lots of new people. Some of these people will become special people in their lives. As a young adult, it can be hard to know what is real love and what is a passing passion. While it’s not for you to put the labels on any of your child’s relationships, it is important for you to be there when they end. Being able to provide that shoulder to cry on is still essential for a few years to come.
Some relationships can become quite intense. It’s difficult not to react strongly when your baby is involved in such grown-up issues, but you don’t want to alienate your son or daughter either. At this age, your child wants to be a responsible adult, independent of his or her parents. The truth is, they still really need you, just in a different way. Be supportive and try not to judge. Just give them all the love you have.
The future is still unwritten for your son or daughter. They have many years ahead of them to steer their path. The journey into adulthood is really only just beginning at this age. The first tentative steps of independence and responsibility can be a bit wobbly. Parents need to be there to help when things go wrong, or mistakes are made.
Soon, your child will be an established professional in a bright career. They may be getting married and starting a family. You could become grandparents, and your relationship with your children will change again. Of course, the bank of Mum and Dad will still come in handy for many. Mortgage deposits are hard to find and toddler shoes are surprisingly expensive these days. Some will rely on this but for others it will just be a lovely surprise.
Life will never be the same now your children have reached adulthood, but your love for them will never wain. Instead, you might just become even more proud of what they achieve in this world than you ever expected.