WT 88: How Do I Set Up My Children for Independence?

Question 1: Karen, what things did you do with your kids before they went to college to prepare them for independence away from home? Spring semester of senior year is coming up and I want to do everything I can to set my daughter up for success.  

Karen's Answer: Teach them how to do their own laundry! Allow them to make their own decisions at home, where the environment is "safe." Let them practice getting oil changed on their own, going to dentist on their own, etc. Give her more freedom, and don’t always “tell” her what to do, start encouraging her to think for herself.  Follow up conversations are essential during this period of letting go. Ask her questions: Why did you decide to do that? Would you do it again? What was your thinking behind your decision? Listen! Listen! Listen! Make sure when you are asking the questions, you are not putting her on the defensive.  Encourage her with phrases like: “That was wise.” or “I love your thinking on that situation.” or “You are very mature for your age.”


Question 2: My youngest son is so sweet, but he doesn’t like to go off and play like his older brother did when he was his age. I often refer to him as “my shadow” since he’s always nearby. I love that he wants to spend time with me, but I also want him to learn to play independently. Any advice?

Karen's Answer: Taylor was like this. You have to force them sometimes. I would send Taylor off in the grocery store to grab something from the next aisle over. Give them little jobs to do that get them a little bit outside of their comfort zone. Use words like “you are such a big boy!”, “I am proud of you”, “You can do this." Start thinking of him as 10 years older than he is right now and start parenting towards that age. Think,“what would this behavior look like in 10 years if left unattended?” A lot of times we look at our children like they are babies and think they can’t do certain things, which ends up hurting them in the long run. Teach him how to be independent a little bit at a time.


Question 3: Karen, what boundaries or rules did you and Greg place on your teen drivers? Our oldest is about to get her license and I am happy at the thought of her being more independent but also want to be wise with the boundaries we set in terms of when and where she drives, who she drives with, how she participates financially, etc.  

Karen's Answer: Great question. In the state of Ga, we have laws that help set those boundaries: they cannot drive with a friend for 6 months. As far as our boundaries, we always asked that our children tell us where they are going and call/text when they arrive at destination. NO texting while driving. And we didn’t like them to talk on the phone while driving. (Greg would test them on that.) Participate financially: they gave $1,000 for the right to drive the car. It wasn’t theirs but they could drive it. We split gas expenses. Greg and I paid for insurance. Sit down with your child and tell them what your goals are and why. That way everyone is on the same page.


Question 4: Karen, how do you manage tithing or giving with kids? When my two sons were younger, we helped teach them to divide their money between give, save and spend. Now that they’re a pre-teen and teen, I don’t speak into how they spend their money. I have one son who I have to convince doesn’t need to give all his birthday money to the church, and another son who would never consider giving unless forced. What’s the right middle ground for my involvement or lack of?

Karen's Answer: The way people spend/save money has a lot to do with their personalities. So, a lot of that you can’t change. Now, you can speak wisdom over them and teach the value of saving for a rainy day, or how it’s not good to horde all your money, or give it all away. Try to celebrate your child and their way, while also guide them towards balance. I had all varieties with my children. Kelsey was a spender. Emily did both, saved/spend. Taylor liked to save and would give a lot away, and Abby would save to what she wanted then  buy big things. iPad, phone, computer etc. I had to not compare, and try to celebrate each one of them in their own way. As they get older share you own experiences with money, the good and the bad stories. I used to tell my children you cannot out- give God. Set them up with 3 jars: Give/Save/Spend

Resources Mentioned in this Episode:

Boundaries For Children

Give/Save/Spend jars

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How Do I Teach My Kids About Money?