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How I Prepared My Teen for the Demands of the Real World

Posted by Leon Scott Baxter

My eldest daughter, Riley, recently turned seventeen. She’ll be starting her senior year of high school this September. College is right around the corner. Then she’ll be gone, out on her own, dealing with the real world: paying bills, living with roommates, and coping with plain old jerks.

The thing is, I think she’ll deal well with the responsibilities of the adult world. I mean, sure, she often responds to our questions with monosyllabic answers. And when we talk, it’s rare for her to peel her eyes away from her phone—it’s become the sixth appendage on her left hand.

But, my daughter doesn’t talk back. She says she loves us. Every. Single. Day. She lets us know her plans, doesn’t sneak out of the house, never raids the liquor cabinet, and pays for her own non-essentials.

See, in the eyes of a seventeen-year old (or, at least ours), parents are schmucks.

We put unreasonable restrictions on their existences. We lecture and rant. We don’t “get it” and our style is outdated. We are the jerks of our teens’ lives.

Yet, how our kids deal with us is a reflection of how they’ll deal with life’s real idiots: the unreasonable employer, the roommate who drinks all the milk, and the teller at the bank who’s had a bad day.

Our daughter is probably going to deal with these people respectfully, because she deals with us respectfully. She may get frustrated, disappointed or even angry, but she won’t lash out. She won’t yell. She won’t argue (although I do hope she stands up for herself).

When Riley steps out of our home in fourteen months, one week and four days (but who’s counting?), she’ll find that the world is sprinkled with knuckleheads who will make her life far more difficult than we ever did. I’m comfortable knowing she won’t come off as a knucklehead herself, because of how she reacted to us at home.

There’s one more thing I’m excited about—when Riley realizes what real jerks look like, she’ll look back at her time with her folks and appreciate the heck out of us.


About Leon Scott Baxter

Leon Scott Baxter, "The Dumbest Genius You'll Ever Meet," has been an elementary educator for the last eighteen years. He's the author of Secrets of Safety-Net Parenting, which helps parents raise happy and successful children. Learn more about raising happy successful children at or on Baxter's YouTube Channel.

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