• By Leathy McLaughlin and Vincent James McLaughlin

Navigating the Journey to Adulthood: A Mother and Son Conversation

Now more than ever, it is essential that we impart to our teens and young adults the life and career-building skills they will need to not only survive but thrive in today’s world. At this stage of development where there is a need for teens to define who they are and their role in society, they need to be prepared for the world beyond the halls of high school. Workforce readiness equips youth with the necessary skills to be successful in the work environment and in life. As a proud mother of three young adults—ages 22, 20, and 19, I want to understand the challenges and pressures they may face as they attempt to make a soft entry into this crazy, faced-paced world of adulting. I often find myself reflecting on the struggles I faced as a young adult. I remember the feelings of uncertainty about the future and the insecurities I experienced because I did not have anyone to explain what I needed to know to get prepared for life. When I was growing up, my family’s emphasis was for me to graduate high school (preferably, without getting pregnant), possibly go to college, and get a good government job. I was curious to know what my 19-year old son thought about the transition from being a teen to emerging as an adult, and whether school had prepared him for adulthood. Here are some of my son’s thoughts on whether he felt prepared for the world after graduating high school, the key things that teens should know, and the importance of workforce readiness and talking to teens about social and emotional skills.

In my opinion, high school did not prepare me for the world. They really did not tell us the important things that are relevant to be an adult. Classes on workforce readiness were not encouraged or made available for all students. Youth need to learn things such as bill paying, budgeting, the significance of credit scores, tax preparation, and many other skills.

Some of the things that teens should know are that while college is a great option, it is not the only way to be successful. You can spend thousands of dollars getting a college education just for a chance to get into the career you want. Although some of my peers look at it negatively, community college is a great option to achieve a college education without spending outrageous sums of money and getting in debt.

Workforce readiness is important because youth need to learn job interviewing skills and how to dress, but they also need to be prepared for how to act in the workplace. It is important to talk to teens about social and emotional skills because they are critical for everything you do in life. These skills are used every day in the workforce. For example, teens need to learn how to interact with customers and other employees who see things differently than they do. They should also learn the correct way to act or react in any given situation, which is helpful inside and outside of the workplace.

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