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Preparing My Teen Son for Adulthood

Jul 18, 2021 | Education, Lifestyle

Before I entered motherhood, I imagined that I would always bear a son—despite others’ unwanted proclamations that I should birth a daughter.

Give Me A Break Reaction GIF by reactionseditor

I daydreamed about the various ages and stages; yet the Third Cycle, ages 14-21, interested me the most. Preparing youth towards independence and freedom deeply excites me. So, the moment the doctor gave me the “it’s a boy” news, I began drafting my ideas on how I would transition my son to adulthood beginning in his Third Cycle.

Me and My Wishful Thinking

Sixteen years ago, my plan only included my anecdotal experience and wishful thinking. Today, my plan also includes my and others’ professional experience and research plus two other factors I could have never considered back in 2005—my own maternal wisdom and the personality of my now teen son.

Even still, I’d like to preface my share by stating that my approach is not written in stone. I constantly tweak our How (though I am firm in the What) given what I learn and my son’s feedback. This is my firstborn son so everything we do together is my first time and literally grow as we go™! However, many inquire about what we are doing usually admiring the fruit they witness from the seeds I have sown into my son. I hope you are inspired by something we do that you can make you own and implement in your own mothering/caretaking.

Finger Crossed & Good Vibes

At 15, we stand at the genesis of “my plan.” My end-goal is for him to be able to financially support himself with strong cognitive, moral, and social codes by 22. I figure if I could, then he should (yes, there is still some wishful thinking). I also reason that by 21 we’re almost grown so it’s an ideal time to put his toe in the adulting bathwater. In the past 5-6 years, our American society is noticing that it is taking longer to grow-up. In fairness, yes, 22 is lofty; even some Millennials are just now launching. Now that gravity has grounded me, I must own that “it takes longer to prepare for the Knowledge Economy than for the Manufacturing Economy.” ~ Jeffrey Jensen Arnett

Yet, sometimes I wonder if it takes longer to grow up, can we begin the transition process a tad sooner? I’ll get back to you in six years with the update. 😉 

But Wait ,There’s Science Too

I confess that I do not believe that an 18-year-old is developmentally “grown” neither do I believe one should kick a child out of the house just because said child has reached an eighteenth birthday; which is supported by science since the brain isn’t fully developed until around age 25. For me, ages 22-24 is a great time to begin full-time adulting expecting “successful” realization by 25. 👀🤷

I teach my son that he should be able to support himself (expenses and savings) and any woman/women and child/children later in his stead. The more extensions of himself (women/children), the more it will cost him. But first, he must be able to maintain himself. So, until he arrives there, he understands that adding any more is less than smart. 😑

We have conversations about what he wants to “do with his name.” Build a business? Start a family? Establish a legacy? At 15, I do not expect this answer to be the end-all be-all; but we need a beginning–a baseline.

The Currently Working Plan

My plan includes three basic steps (that my husband and I model for and with him):

  • Improve self (includes personal development/therapy)

What can he do, commit to, give, and/or share that will mature and develop him? We identify these tasks; then we outline and order them with a reasonable timeline.

Who can he connect with, serve, or help that will teach him, equip him, and empower him? We identify these people (or these types of people); then think through a strategy on how to best connect and serve.

Most people (family, neighbors, strangers) are eager to support and connect with promising youth. Use this to your advantage. Many organizations and programs are designed to prepare this age group in various ways from exposure to appreciation to experience. Lean into it.

  • Gain skills and knowledge

He can develop his craft, increase his skills, try something new, gain experience, and even completely fail. But he must do something. The more he knows about himself (including what he likes/does not like, what he wants to explore, etc) the less he is left to figure out in adulthood where it will cost his valuable time and money–this is one jewel in beginning early with a teen.

To support yourself, marketable skills are necessary. We discuss necessary life skills and create (or look for) opportunities to gain them. But we also talk about skills that pays the bills. In our current marketplace (and projecting out to the best of our ability) we think through profitable skills—skills that others will pay top dollar for. We also chat about what must be true for that to happen. Some require certification, college, a passport, languages, a clean background, etc.

If he is to be a Bezos or Zuckerberg of his generation, maybe we can ditch/modify the plan. Until then, it is imperative that he is educated/apprenticed and acquires high-level skills that adds value in the marketplace as it increases the likelihood that he can move into step number 3.

  • Increase/Manage financials and materials

At his age, he understands this step intellectually, but we have yet to fully unpack what it means as we have 6-7 years to come into it.

Starting Earlier May Be a Good Idea

Currently, he’s doing a great job of carrying step 1 and step 2 together.

  • He meets with mentors and family to teach him and hold him accountable.
  • He routinely attends therapy with a male counselor.
  • He has a drafted plan that he works on weekly for progressions and check-ins.
  • He has completed ninth grade with a 4.0 GPA.
  • He has secured a summer job and earns wages.
  • He secured a paid internship to gain experience in interviewing, content creation, and other skills he is interested in learning or sharpening.
  • He is a paid employee of my business learning basic life and employee skills.
  • He is enrolled at a local university for some college courses (while the city pays for it).
Michelle Obama Dancing GIF
Go, son, go!

Now that he is earning multiple streams, he is grasping what is required “to work”; and also how he wants to show up in the world and manage his money. Though knowledgeable in financial literacy, he now begins to practice it and has his own realizations and perspective shifts.

It’s the Black Gold for Me 👑

As a former high school teacher and now college professor, I now know there is a way to ease them into adulthood where they are ready-to-launch in a way that’s not unnecessarily painful or slow. I also believe that I have a duty to society and the Black community to raise a man who can competently earn and compete socially and economically.

#BlackGold

Should my son decide to be a husband and/or a father, I want him to be able to fulfill these roles in a way that advances them all. I am not a man, so I have no clue of what he needs to take place on that end (he has men in his life for that); but as a woman I know that his ability to improve himself, increase his skills and knowledge, and manage his money and assets strengthens his ability to provide for himself (independently and/or extensions).

And what mother doesn’t want that for her adult son?  

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