153824564 (2)Today I’m accompanying Austin and a friend to Moody Bible Institute for a college visit. Austin is a junior, but he’ll be graduating early in December, so we’re in the process of figuring out what life looks like after high school for him.

He doesn’t know what he wants to do.  He doesn’t know where he wants to go.  He doesn’t know what he wants to be.

That’s normal.

Our job as parents is to help them navigate the maze of options.  Give them experiences to say, “I liked that.” or “That didn’t interest me at all.”  Both are good results because they help narrow the possibilities.

If it was up to Austin, we wouldn’t be making college visits…he’s agreeable to them, just not motivated to seek them out himself.  Sometimes mom and dad have to help lead in the right direction.

In general, we now lead our kids to two years of community college and then finishing their degree at a state school.  This is to keep them from too much debt.  However, if their grades are good enough for scholarship possibilities, then looking elsewhere is an option. Austin’s grades are good enough for scholarship possibilities so we’re looking at the options.

We have another graduating senior this year. Rather than being college bound, he is interested in the construction trades industry.  We’ve made a visit to an Army recruiter, talked to friends who are union employees, and led him toward work opportunities in the construction industry.

As your kids get older, they still need you to lead and guide, but they also need the freedom to make their own choices about the future.  In fact, Pam Farrel and I talk about that delicate balance in our book, Got Teens?  

Here are some ways we offer in Got Teens? to make your home a launching pad for your child:

1) Be involved in your children’s schoolwork.  Attend parent-teacher meetings and be available to help with homework.

2) Set educational standards. She your vision for academic excellence. Set an example as a a lifelong learner.

3) Be and advocate when necessary.  Let your kids know you’ll help if a teacher is being unfair.

4) Don’t be afraid to let them suffer some consequences, when needed. Mistakes are opportunities to learn.

5) Begin look at college possibilities during the freshman year. Surf the web together to check out college websites. Scan fainancial aid pages to help you son/daughter set educational goals for academic grants and scholarships.

What about you?  What did your parents do to help you prepare for college?  If you have older kids, what have you done to help your kids prepare? 

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