By Andrea Moore
Back when I was growing up, I thought my sweet 16 birthday was supposed to be the start of my true “young adult” life. This would be the year I started driving, was able to go out with my friends alone, and I could even get a job so I wouldn’t have to depend on my parents for spending money. Furthermore, I no longer looked at myself as a child but rather a teenager that was getting ready for adulthood, which meant I was ready to complete more mature activities. I was ready to have my curfew extended, drive to the movies with my friends, and even take the train throughout the city without adult supervision. Moreover, once my mother entrusted me with these new responsibilities I knew it required me to develop new skills to handle the new duties required of a young adult.
Now that I am 41 years old I am the parent, and my daughter just had her sweet 16. In addition, my oldest daughter not only turned 18, but also started her first year of college. Subsequently, my daughters are now beginning to go out on their own now, take trips with friends, and even go to other States without me and their dad. In that, they are required to make more decisions on their own without my input and steering. This means youth must develop the skills necessary to make independent decisions without parental influence.
Subsequently, I believe there are 5 strategies that youth can employ when required to make adult decisions on their own.
- Define the Actual Problem
In many cases the “problems” that we think are momentous may appear larger than what they are in reality. For example, my 16 year old daughter acquired a job during the summer in which she immediately excelled. She did so well in fact, that her supervisor asked her to continue working on weekends once the school year started. At first she was excited about going to school and make money, however, she soon realized that the job took time away from her scheduled activities like cheerleading, yearbook, and hanging out with her friends. Subsequently, she had to make a decision about how she would handle her new role as a student and employee.
The first thing she did was define the issue, which was “how to make time for school, student activities and work”.
- Determine Your Intended Goal
Next, she had to determine what she really wanted in the end. For my daughter, she wanted to work so she could have her own money, while remaining on the cheerleading team and yearbook, which were all simple goals. In life, goals don’t always have to be long-term and out of immediate reach. On the contrary, goals should be precise, timely and measurable. If you want something determine a plan and timeline, execute that strategy, and analysis the effectiveness in the end.
- Mentally Analyze the Pros and Cons of your Decision
The next step is to weigh the pros and cons of the outcomes of your proposed decisions mentally (or write it down). In my daughter’s case, she thought about what would happen if she continued working both afterschool and on weekends. She determined that she wouldn’t be able to go to all the games to cheer, her grades might go down, and she probably would have to quit yearbook. However, these were all no gos because she concluded that it would be important to focus more on school since it was her 11th grade year, the year which could determine her college trajectory. Therefore, quitting the extracurricular activities that look good on college transcripts would not help her in the long run.
On the other hand, quitting her job meant that she would not have any money for going out with friends or buying the clothes she wanted.
- Select the Outcome that will Benefit You and Others
Finally, once the problem is defined and the pros and cons are weighed, then a decision has to be made. My daughter actually determined that quitting her job would be the most effective decision, as she decided that school and school activities was her top priority. My daughter decided (on her own) that although she liked the money she was receiving now, her ultimate goal was to excel in school and go on to college to make even more money in the future. The best way to achieve that goal was to focus on school now, and work less.
- Stand Fast in Your Decision
Lastly, once my daughter made her determination she called her boss at work to inform her of the decision. Furthermore she did not waver, once my daughter created the plan she executed.
Well, after the conversation with her boss my daughter was asked to remain employed with the company and they would work around her schedule. She was such a great employee that they wanted to keep her on. Subsequently, my daughter was able to obtain everything she wanted, the money, the time for school and social activities, and the ability to continue taking the appropriate steps to secure her future. Not bad for a 16 year old!
Therefore, never look at new adult problems as a “problem”, but more as tasks which requires research, analysis, testing, final determination, and outcome examination. Thankfully, these steps have really helped me to manage my current responsibilities and tasks as a 41 year old mom. Furthermore, looking at my daughters prepare for their lives while implementing these strategies makes me proud and optimistic about the 41 year olds they will become.