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How to Help Your Children Become Successful Adults

By AK, 31 July

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If you're a parent, you already know that you need to maintain a delicate balance between doing too much for your kids and doing too little. Every mom and dad do their best to strike a balance between teaching solid, valuable lessons and interfering. If you don't do enough, you risk letting your youngsters grow up without the proper amount of guidance. On the other hand, if you become overbearing and smother them with help at every juncture, children can simply become too reliant on your assistance. What's the secret? Maybe the better question is, is there a secret? Put another way is the bad news is that there is not a secret, but the good news is that there are some tried and true guidelines that have worked many people faced with the prospect of making sure sons and daughters get off to a good beginning as young adults.

During the last crucial years of their teens, when they're getting ready to head off to college, there's plenty you can do to help point your children in the right direction. You can offer to help them decide about careers, figure out which schools might be best for their goals, acquire student loans, learn how to budget, and more. After they graduate and head into the working world, it helps if you've passed on some helpful tips about home buying, retirement planning, and married life. Here are a few key details about seven essential areas in which you can guide your youngsters from childhood to adulthood.

1Finding the Right School

Consider sitting down with your child's high school counselor and having a college conference, making sure to ask plenty of questions about what scholarships and grants are open for particular colleges and majors. Use this time to also explore career choices, university acceptance rates, varying tuition levels, how to plan for a graduate degree in business or law, and anything else on your or your youngster's mind. In most cases, it's best to stay out of the final decision about which college to attend, but kids will usually ask for your opinions about different schools, majors, and thoughts about graduate school. After all, they know you've been through this process yourself and if they're mature enough, they will want to hear what you have to say.

Finding the Right School

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2Cosigning for a Student Loan

When you agree to cosign for you son or daughter's educational loan, you aren't agreeing to make the payments for them. Instead, you are simply acting as a financial backer in situations when they would not be able to obtain the financing themselves. Most older teens don't have an established credit history and end up having difficulty when they apply on their own. When you allow the lender to use your credit rating and solid financial standing in place of your child's credit history, or lack of it, you open the doors to educational opportunities that might otherwise not be available to college-bound youth.

Cosigning for a Student Loan

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3Saving, Budgeting, and Spending

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Have a formal sit-down chat about money, speaking as an adult to a soon to be adult. Explain to your son or daughter about the importance of saving money on a regular basis, making detailed monthly and yearly budgets, and the necessity of getting a handle on spending. Even if they don't absorb all the fine points, you'll be signaling to them that you place a high value on these concepts. Sometimes, that's the most vital lesson of all.

Saving, Budgeting, and Spending

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4Health Insurance

Make sure your kids know the ins and outs of health insurance. Include a discussion about how the Affordable Care Act works and how they can avoid falling under its provisions if they wish to obtain other, better medical coverage. This is a topic that too many parents inadvertently omit when having serious discussions with young adults.

5Home Buying

You can do your children a big favor by explaining the admittedly boring subject of home buying and selling. Use your own situation as an example and make sure they understand how down payments, credit scores, job stability, and income levels fit into the equation. Using a real-life example, your own home, as a starting point can illustrate the lesson quite well.

Health Insurance

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6Marriage and Family

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This isn't the facts of life talk you had 10 years ago. It's a more advanced version that focuses on planning for children and the importance of finding a life mate. College-age kids intuitively understand a large part of this lesson but to hear you speak directly and frankly about the topic helps them see how important a solid marriage is and how it can contribute to long-term happiness.

Home Buying

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7Retirement Planning

Most older teens will roll their eyes and sigh when you introduce this topic, but it's just as essential as the other life lessons. Again, use your own situation as the template in order to make the subject resonate with them. Explain how IRAs work, why it's necessary to minimize taxes, and how to open an IRA account at a bank.

Marriage and Family

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