February 9

Helping Your Kids Make Crucial Life Choices

Helping Your Kids Make Crucial Life Choices

Deborah

Crucial Life Choices

This episode flows out of several questions I’ve received from Women at Halftime Podcast listeners on helping kids make life choices, especially in choosing a life partner. As my husband and I talked this over, we wondered if we truly had enough valuable words of advice on the subject. We also realized making crucial life choices included so much more than choosing a spouse. There are other choices they constantly make as they enter adulthood that can have long-term effects for them as well as for their extended families.

There is no absolute guidebook on raising kids—it’s a learn as you go journey for most of us. At this stage of our lives, we feel extremely fortunate to have a relationship with all of our adult children. We can stand back and observe their journey, yet also have gained the right to state our opinion when we feel appropriate.

Our goal has been to raise responsible adults who pull their weight in society. None of our sons had disabilities that would be a burden to society, so we felt they should all be able to choose a career and life path that would be self-sustaining. We knew they would make mistakes along the way, but looking back, we definitely did too! It was important for us to keep that in mind and also communicate some of our mistakes with our sons!

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Women at Halftime by Deborah Johnson Helping Your Kids Make Crucial Life Choices 2-9-21
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Start With the End in Mind

You may be at the stage where you already have kids in their teenage years. It’s not too late to implement some of the principles in this article, but realize that as teenagers, your kids are already in control of much of their life. Or at least they should be for the most part.

It is very difficult to let our kids make mistakes. We want to protect them and show them a better way. Even when very young, we want to give them smaller decisions and let them feel the consequences. In helping them make intelligent life choices, their mindset as teens should be that they are in control. They are also the recipient of consequences. When our kids do reach adult status, we hopefully will have the right to give them fully informed advice when asked or absolutely necessary. We love them more than most anyone in the world and also, we know them better than anyone else does. Any advice we give is coming from that groundwork and they know it.

As parents, we are a source for our kids, not ones merely telling them how to live their life, especially in the teen years. One of the most difficult acts I’ve had as a parent is holding my tongue. It’s tough to just shake our head with an Oh well or I’m sorry that didn’t turn out as you planned instead of I told you so!

Communicating Values

If you have clearly communicated values while your kids are growing up, they may not end up following those values, but they will know where you stand without a lecture. (We call it a talk; they call it a lecture!) This takes us sitting down as parents and defining what we believe and what is most important for us to communicate as they are growing up.

When our kids have chosen a different path, we are then able to say, This is not how we believe and you know that. We feel this is not the best choice in this situation, but this is your choice. At that point, they know very well how we feel. We also communicate that we will always be here as parents, not to bail them out, but as an emotional support.

The four main areas we will cover here are Values, Faith, Education and a Life Partner. Principles for most of these areas have been communicated in teachable moments. You can’t merely plan quality time. In fact, with our sons and their one-word responses, I found one of the best places to communicate was in the car. It leveled the playing field and I had their full attention!

One: Values

Values include both personal and professional values. Honesty, integrity, hard work and order are those we focused on. Although, looking at their rooms growing up, the aspect of order seemed unreachable! But there’s hope in what we now see as they are out of our house!


Our main focus was to drop off functional adults to society that were independent and well-mannered. Focusing on this aspect kept the main goal in focus for us and not the nagging details. Equating work with a paycheck is now a stark reality and we are thankful they are all pulling their weight.

Adult Children-Deborah Johnson

Two: Faith

Values include both personal and professional values. Honesty, integrity, hard work and order are those we focused on. Although, looking at their rooms growing up, the aspect of order seemed unreachable! But there’s hope in what we now see as they are out of our house!

Our main focus was to drop off functional adults to society that were independent and well-mannered. Focusing on this aspect kept the main goal in focus for us and not the nagging details. Equating work with a paycheck is now a stark reality and we are thankful they are all pulling their weight.

Three: Education

Not every child is destined to go to college, but we affirmed the value of industriousness relating to their education. We also communicated that with a college degree, they would increase their opportunities up to 40% higher compared with those without that piece of paper.

We’ve encouraged our kids to read, to study and to be lifelong learners. Much of this has also been communicated by example. All our kids have heard me repeat many times the phrase my father told me about my graduate degree, No one can take that piece of paper away from you! Whether your child pursues a technical certification or a college degree, the main focus is to not burden society with our mess. It took all our sons longer than expected to finish their education, but after they did, we breathed a sigh of relief! And they all followed different paths.

Four: Life Partner

Here is the real hot button—choosing a life partner. There are no hard and fast ways we can get our kids to listen up on this one. Greg and I feel fortunate in the choice we made for each other, but there were still so many unknowns as we entered our marriage relationship. We readily admit that. We have tried to be open with our kids and treat each other with respect.

Our sons tended to listen more to Greg about dating and marriage, but I realize for many women, this is not an option. I emphasized many times that you not only marry the person, but the family. They knew that principle well, but when emotions are involved, sometimes all advice is forgotten.

Starting a conversation with, Can I talk with you about… or Where’s this relationship going? are good starting points. Also, asking them if they plan on dating forever (which can bring a laugh!) or if marriage is an option may be good conversation starters if they don’t roll their eyes. If so, move on! It’s very difficult when we see the warning signs and they don’t. But many times, they are blinded by emotion. Their choices are their choices. My mother’s mother entered an arranged marriage, but even that wasn’t all that ideal. Instilling enough main values in life in order to make good decisions has been one of the best strategies in our situation and I believe it is very valuable for most people.

Our Job Now

Prayer, encouraging good life decisions and keeping communication open helps when the tough times come. And those times will and have come for our kids. We are now partnering with them on their journey. (See article: Adult Children)

Our main responsibility has been to not only help them make good decisions, but also to keep communication going in the relationship. Listening has been top-of-mind. I can still see my father just nodding his head as he listened to our family chatter. I wonder if he was doing the same thing? I do know he kept his mouth shut when we made some bonehead decisions. (My mother was a bit more verbal! Ha!)

For holidays, we have started focusing more on renewing relationships instead of restoring relationships. (See: Family Holidays) This takes the pressure off of trying to cram in our agenda when spending a day together just at holiday times. It also opens up opportunities to communicate throughout the year as we realize there are choices they have made that have been less than ideal. That listening skill I spoke about? It comes in handy! They all know we will be right here as an emotional support.

There is no one guidebook on parenting, and the job of a parent really never ends. Fortunately, we have our own personal values and faith. We are not dependent on our kids for our personal affirmation and worth. And they know we are right here for them when and if they need to talk through issues they are facing.

I hope this article has helped you in some aspect on your parenting journey. Focus on the major areas that are most important and trust that your child will make good, if not always the best, decisions. For that, you can truly be thankful!

The job of a parent never really ends...

deborah johnson

Thought Leader, Keynote Speaker, Author


If you are interested in growing and learning, check out our online courses here: Online Learning

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About the Author

DEBORAH JOHNSON, M.A., creator of Hero Mountain™® and past President of Los Angeles National Speakers Association, is an international award-winning music artist, author, speaker and National Media Commentator. Deborah provides principles to produce a successful second half, creating momentum and getting unstuck, reaching expansive goals and a desired lifestyle. Up for multiple GRAMMY Awards and spending over 20 years in the entertainment industry, she's an expert on how to constantly reinvent yourself in a gig-economy. She is also the recipient of the 2018 Women's Economic Forum Exceptional Women of Excellence Award. Deborah is the author of 4 books and speaks and performs in both live and virtual events.

Deborah

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