As their matric year or whirlwind gap year slowly comes to an end, it’s time to start readying your teen for the next exciting chapter in their life: starting varsity! While it’s important to get involved in this preparation process, the best thing that a parent can do is take a step back while still staying connected. Here’s how to get this delicate balance right, as well as a description of the main aspects and new challenges of varsity life that you should focus on helping your teen prepare for.
It’s vital that you allow your teen as much independence as possible before they head off to varsity – especially if they will be living away from home in their very own student digz. Stop being their alarm clock every morning, avoid cooking them their favourite breakfast and don’t badger them about finishing their homework. They need to learn their own routine. How to do these types of things themselves and without prompting – there won’t be anyone to do these duties on their behalf when they’re away starting their studies, after all!
Step back but stay connected in this regard by encouraging and acknowledging their efforts when they feed themselves or manage to get up on time.
If you’ve been taking the lead role in managing your teen’s finances up until recently, now is the time to hand over the reins. Being responsible enough to manage their money and stick to a strict student budget is a pre-requisite for a successful time at university. While you will probably still be paying for their accommodation and food, they will likely be in charge of their money for textbooks and entertainment, and they will need to know how to make good, sustainable decisions that won’t leave them penny-pinching when it comes time to buy that new set-work at the book store.
Step back but stay connected by guiding your teen in terms of how best to budget (the 50/20/30 rule is a great place to start), and then leave them to it. Do NOT give them extra money if they run out before the stipulated time.
We’ve already touched on the importance of a varsity-bound teen being able to cook for themselves, but this point cannot be emphasised enough! If they are unable to cook nutritious meals while living on their own in student digz, they will likely turn to fast food restaurants or ready-meals to fill the gap. And this type of food is often packed with fat, preservatives and other unsavoury additives. This means more than just an unhealthy diet – it also means a massive food bill that you will probably need to help settle. Do yourself, and your teen, a favour by giving them basic cooking lessons at home or signing them up for a short cooking course ahead of time. Rest assured that it will be one of the best investments that you will ever make!
Remember – stepping back but staying connected means letting your teen know that you’re always there when they need you, but that you also trust them enough to be able to look after themselves. This confidence in their abilities is sure to mean the world and will go a long way towards motivating your teen to do everything in their power to make things work.
Here’s to a new adventure and the official start of adult life.