Note: I’m adding a section in the resources category on the website for “young adult resources.” As a starter, I asked Witty Ryter to write a blog about his work to provide some insight for late teens and young adults on vital information that they need. Please read his article below and click on the link to his free book that will be in the Young Adult Resources in the Resources section of the website. I will be happy to populate this section of resources with any information any of you come across that might be of value to young adults.
-Dr. Jack Stoltzfus
From Witty Ryter:
As parents, we all try to prepare our children for the real world. When they are little, we tell them to look both ways before they cross the street, to be cautious with strangers, and to always tell the truth. As they get older, we endeavor to give our kids advice on an ever-evolving range of topics and situations that we know they’ll encounter “out there.” With every bit of guidance, we hope to help them reach adulthood with the knowledge that they’ll need to become self-sufficient, confident, productive members of society.
While our aim is noble, our approach is often clumsy because parenting is learned on the job and the job changes all the time. Our desire to be good teachers is frequently undermined by life’s complications and distractions, which make it impossible to transfer to our offspring all the knowledge that we wish we could. This is particularly true when we try to educate teens and young adults about the many things that adulthood requires.
It’s difficult enough for parents to get a teen or young adult to give them a few minutes of their truly undivided attention, so having them sit through an explanation of some uninteresting, seemingly irrelevant, adult topic tends to be wishful thinking. That doesn’t mean that the lesson doesn’t need to be taught, it simply means that parents need to be creative about how to deliver the information. In my particular case, I ended up teaching my teenage daughter about adulthood by writing a book about it.
3 Primary Challenges
My original intent was only to make a list of things that I wished I had known when I turned 18 and to discuss them with my teen, but my modest plan quickly expanded into a full blown project. There were three main drivers for my changing approach.
- First, I remembered that at 18 I knew virtually nothing about grown-up stuff. I had no idea how a credit card worked, what insurance did, what a security deposit was, or why I needed to save for retirement. My daughter, like myself at her age, was oblivious about most of the details that make adulthood work, so what I thought would become a list of maybe a dozen topics ended up growing to 75.
- The second challenge I encountered was the fact that having a conversation about anything takes time. My child was gracious enough to sit attentively (at least she looked the part) while I rambled about the first item on my list, but it was easy to see that using the same method 74 more times would not be practical. I needed to convey the information in a more permanent and more accessible medium than a monologue or a forced exchange.
- Finally, and perhaps most problematic, was the dryness of the subject matter. Even as someone who’s been an adult for decades, the intricacies of some grown-up topics put me to sleep. How could I expect a teenager, with less than zero interest in the stuff I wanted to cover, to retain anything I said? The prospect of having to address so much boring material seemed daunting to me, but it offered a better alternative than having my kid unnecessarily stumble while learning the same stuff through trial and error.
With my initial plan morphing into a writing exercise, I ended up creating a book that answers three main questions about each item it covers:
- When is it relevant?
- What is it?
- Why it matters?
Relevance is the leading question because without the proper context, it may not be obvious how the information could be a useful tool. In order to keep readers engaged, the book gets to each point quickly and provides succinct explanations. It also uses cartoons to try to make the content a bit more entertaining and to help reinforce each lesson.
Now that my teen has finished reading the book, she feels a little less apprehensive about topics related to employment, living arrangements, civic responsibilities, owning a car, traveling, saving and investing, paying off debt, and others. She will need to delve much more deeply into the lessons learned in order to get a full picture, but she is now equipped with a basic frame of reference and a resource to consult as needed.
Get the Book!
I’m hopeful that my book can also help others take some of the uncertainty out of reaching adulthood. Grown-Up Stuff Explained: 75 Topics 18-year-Olds Should Know is not an all-encompassing document and is not designed to tell anyone how to live their adult life. It is meant to be a tool that gets teens and young adults to start thinking about adulthood and begin asking relevant questions. None of us are born adults, so we literally and figuratively need to grow into the role. Asking pertinent questions is how we expand our understanding of the adult world, and it’s a process that I’m optimistic can start with my book.
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