The Parent’s Role: A Balancing Act During Transition Planning
By Jennifer Stewart, Project Coordinator, LINK Center (FCSN)
Finding the right balance for parent involvement during a youth’s transition from high school is an important consideration. Most parent’s want to help, but are not quite sure how. Being helpful, supportive and effective in a youth’s transition will look different for every family. The relationships, level of support needed, level of independence, self-advocacy, and of course teenage hormones will all impact how parents and youth can work together when transition planning.
Finding a balance relates to the level of parent’s involvement in helping their youth navigate connecting to new systems of support. Parents can be great connectors for their youth, but learning when to back away and trust that their youth can succeed on their own is a challenge. For example: a parent is encouraging their youth to get a summer job. How can they help? What should they do? What if the youth won’t get off the couch? What if the youth is not socially appropriate?
There are many questions that make navigating parent involvement in transition planning difficult. Every youth will be different, but here are some suggestions to finding a balance between helping and empowering a youth to be more self-sufficient. Transition Planning Activity: Goal – John will get a summer job working with animals. Action Steps for Parents:
• Suggest John create a list of places he is interested in working
• Help John think through how he could apply or communicate with the employer that he is interested in working there
• Help John think about how he will get to the employer’s location
• Practice interview questions
• Discuss job responsibilities, appropriate behaviors on the job, what to do if he encounters a problem
• Let him go!! Succeed or Fail it is a valuable experience preparing him and providing him skills for life long transitions ahead!
These strategies are considered helpful exercises that can help guide a youth toward their own self-advocacy, but parents are not actively driving the process. Parents want to guide their youth toward self-sufficiency and take a step back from being the main organizer to the main supporter.
For more information about the LINK Center visit fcsn.org/linkcenter