8 Things Every 20 Year Old Needs to Know

Last week, I wrote on this blog about what teens need to know by age 16. 16-year-olds venture away from the family, as they and their friends have driving privileges and increasing amounts of unsupervised time. They make decisions on their own, and have to learn to handle things without parents always being present to guide them. Here is the list of things I hope my 16 year old knows before wandering off unsupervised:

8 Things Teens Need to Learn by 16/Driving Age

1.     Put down your damn phone and look up!

2.     Learn what is (and is not) “camper appropriate.”

3.     Just get out on the floor and dance.

4.     It’s not about you.

5.     How to protect a friend when something bad is about to happen.

6.     Don’t be afraid to lead.

7.     Some itches shouldn’t be scratched at the table.

8.     Mom and Dad are always here to support you.


The above list will carry them through the high school years, but then what? By 20 our kids need to go a step further. They won’t just be spending Saturday nights out without a parent’s guidance. They’ll be easing into independent life. By 20, our kids need to learn to be adults, and more and more, young people are struggling making the transition. Here are the things I want my kids (and yours) to learn by age 20.

1. Yes, being an adult is this hard for everyone. Some days it might feel like the universe is messing with you, and that all of this is a sick prank at your expense, but adulthood is just like that sometimes. You’re not cursed with terrible luck. The struggle is normal. But you can do it.

2. You have freedom. And responsibility. Now that you’re an adult, you have the freedom to make a lot more choices for yourself. You can break your lease or kick out your roommate, and you can enroll in school or decide to work instead of going to college. You can quit your job as a server and look for an office job. You can make a lot of decisions for yourself, but you will have to take responsibility for those choices yourself. That’s what adults do.

3. Some things you have to learn by doing. Up to this point, you’ve been given a lot of advice about life, but some things you’ll have to experience firsthand in order to master them. Maybe you think you know what it takes, but until you’ve done it, you don’t really know.

4. There are no wrong answers when it comes to your education and career, just choices and outcomes. There is not a perfect “right” path. You probably have many good options for the course your life can take. Stop trying to be perfect, and just step out there and try something.

5. Going back to being a child is not an option. When things get tough in adulthood, you still have to do it. Even if the family can help, you still have to live as a grown up now that you are one. There’s no going backward, only forward.

6. Sometimes you just need to leave the party. And take your drunk friend home when you go. Discernment is the ability to read a situation and understand how it needs to be handled. You’ll need it. You might find yourself in a bad situation and need to get out of it. When you go, don’t leave anyone behind.

7. Speeding tickets are expensive in this state. While you will have to learn many things through the school of life, some mistakes don’t need to be repeated. Just trust me.

8. Ask for help when you need it. Adulting is new when you’re 20. Those of us who have been there before you can give guidance and support. Just ask.

Posted on July 17, 2017 .