Communities that Care: Is your teen ready to launch?

July 2, 2014 

The period of time that begins with your teen’s senior year of high school and moves toward college or other pursuits often is full of turmoil. Parents and teens experience many mixed feelings that often present as conflict. We worry if they are ready for the freedom of living away from home while they begin pulling away, often telling us things such as, “Next year you won’t know what time I get home, so you might as well get used to it.”

Author, psychologist and mother of two Laura Kastner and co-author Jennifer Wyatt call this time “the launching years.” They provide some strategies for parenting through these times in their book of the same title. Kastner, in her email granting permission to use the below survey, said that the focus on the age, stage and parent-child dynamic of launching makes this book’s information stand the test of time.

The first helpful tool is the authors’ “Ready for the Launch?” adolescent and parent-readiness survey. This allows parents to assess the readiness of their seniors as well as themselves for launching. Today, we will focus on part one: the senior.

On a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 = strongly agree; 2 = agree; 3 = uncertain; 4 = disagree; and 5 = strongly disagree, answer these questions:

1. I feel confident that my adolescent has the problem-solving abilities to handle most challenges that will come with life after high school.

2. My adolescent has the necessary social skills she/he will need for living in a new social setting and interacting with new people.

3. My adolescent has the intellectual and academic skills she/he needs for the kind of experience she/he will choose after high school graduation.

4. I do not believe my adolescent needs time off after high school for maturational purposes before taking advantage of a college experience.

5. My adolescent will be emotionally secure to leave home after graduating from high school.

6. My adolescent makes good decisions related to her/his use of money.

7. I believe my adolescent possesses age-level emotional skills for handling romantic involvements.

8. I do not think that my adolescent will have problems with homesickness upon leaving home.

9. My adolescent has the capability to set goals and meet them.

10. For the most part, my adolescent possesses the moral value to guide her/his actions and understand the consequences of her/his behavior.

Reviewing your responses, consider 4s and 5s as issues that need attention. Life competencies for emerging adults include:

• Motivation and drive

• Practical reasoning

• Moral attentiveness and character

• Emotional awareness

• Healthy habits

• Self-control and affective regulation

• Social skills

• Communication skills

• Intellectual interests and abilities

• Spiritual awareness

Through school applications, “senioritis” and on through a bittersweet summer, it’s important to continue to support the teen’s progress without becoming over-involved. Visit www.laurakastnerphd.com for more information from the authors. Because parents experience huge life transition changes at the same time, next week’s column focuses on parent readiness.

Editor’s note: This column is the first in a two-part series. Connie Schulz is a family outreach specialist for State College Area School District. You can reach her at ces11@scasd.org or by phone at 231-1070. This weekly column is provided by the Communities That Care Prevention Coalition of Centre County serving Bald Eagle, Bellefonte, Penns Valley, Philipsburg-Osceola and State College area school districts.

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