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

Posted August 8, 2016 by

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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 We don’t “get it” and our style is outdated.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.


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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    Good Luck Scott.Yes my 18 year Old always ended the night with a Kiss for each of us and was a “Nerd” Type in HS as she was a good student with a 4.0 GPA,this was just 7 Months ago when she turned 18,never doubted her and trusted her around her close friends BUT that soon changed so ready yourself for it,nothing last forever.Did I know she had a “Tinder App” on Her Phone?Did I ever think she would be who she is today? Never in my Wildest Dreams but its True.When your child leaves the house until she returns you havent a clue what they are up to or who they are associating with,you just see the good things which is what she wants you to see.Yes there alot of “Knuckleheads” at School,all trying to out do each other and who has this and that.Until yours is totally self sufficient I wouldnt start counting your Eggs as Ive been there and am still there.Its either Her or its Me and guess who the winner will be?In my Case she is the creation of her Mother,Not Me.Ive been strict and demand respect but one day came home to find Her Boyfriend here and hasnt left since.Had I had any say this would never have happened but she is a step daughter of 14 years and neither she or her 21 yo Boyfriend could survive the Real World.They will soon as I intend on showing them the Door and if my Wife doesnt like it she can Join them.I pay the bills and I own everything,theres no second thoughts.From Her Car,my Wifes,the Insurance,House,Lifestyle yes Daddy pays for all of it because I once Loved my Wife and Daughter.Now,my Daughter is enrolled on my Bad List and while my Wife sits quiet I remind her Daily that she created this mess of 3 Months of Free Loading as a 12 Credit “Full Time College Student” and Her Baby who doesnt work but is looking for work while sleeping till 11 am.I certainly hope Your Princess doesnt turn out like mine but be warned that its Realityand you have no control over it and someday they will look back and think “Wow,did I have a Great Life”

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