Helping my son become an adult

My eldest turned 17 a few weeks ago. It’s quite a scary milestone. In just a year’s time, he will have finished his A Levels and left school. And he will be an adult.

Kids don’t miraculously become adults as the clock ticks past midnight on their 18th birthdays. It’s a long and gradual process, which starts when they are about 14 or 15 and doesn’t finish until they are well into their 20s. But it’s still a big step and I want him to be ready for it. In a year’s time, he may want to leave home. He needs to know how to be independent – and he needs to get the very best exam results he can to set himself on that path.

At the moment, it feels like a lot of parenting time, for both myself and my husband, is focused on my son and helping him become an adult.

First and most importantly, there’s his A Levels. There will always be plenty of people that tell you that exams aren’t the be-all-and-end-all – and I get that. But getting good exam results does make life easier. And if you’re capable of getting good exam results, you should damn well get your head down, put the work in and get them!

My son is undoubtedly a bright boy. He has a broad general knowledge and a keen interest in a lot of issues. He can talk a very good talk. But unfortunately the work he gets down on paper doesn’t truly reflect his abilities. This is down to two things – his dysgraphia, which makes it hard for him to write, and his laziness and lack of motivation. Sadly, he just doesn’t put the work in and use his time effectively.

He’s getting help with the dysgraphia and now has permission to use his laptop in all classes, as well as his exams. We will be helping him learn to touch type over the holidays. I genuinely believe that using the laptop will bring all of his grades up by one grade – so he will get a C instead of a D or (hopefully) a B instead of a C.

He’s already decided he doesn’t want to go to university, and I respect his decision. He won’t find any more motivation to work at university than he does at school and will just end up in a lot of debt for no reason. Instead, he’d like to do a higher level apprenticeship (which will ultimately lead to a degree) in business. This a fantastic idea, but there aren’t that many of those apprenticeships around. So of course they demand good grades.

Which brings us back to the A Levels…

And he says he’d also like a year out. Again, I have no problem with that. But I’d like to know what he’s planning to do and see some evidence of planning. If he’s intending to get up at 12pm every day and look at his phone, I won’t be supporting a year out!

He’s started learning to drive and is doing very well. My husband has been brilliant in taking him out very regularly. My son needs to start revising for his theory test, because we don’t want that holding him back.

Then there’s his time-consuming part-time job. He needs to find another job, with better hours (and maybe better pay). He needs to learn to balance his time more effectively.

Did I mention that he needs to focus more on his A Levels?!

And if he’s going to be travelling or doing an apprenticeship away from home, he needs to learn a bit of respect for his surroundings, his property and other people’s property. He leaves a trail of mess wherever he goes and can’t see that he’s doing wrong. It annoys us, but we’re his family, so we forgive him to a certain extent. Flatmates wouldn’t be quite as tolerant.

The next year is going to be a tough one and the work starts now – studying, learning to type, driving, part-time work, learning responsibility, looking for an apprenticeship, planning his year out… He’s coasted a bit too much through year 12.

Now it’s time to start learning to become an adult.

Teenager, Son, Growing up, Learning to be an adult, Helping my son become an adult

Author: Sarah Mummy

Share This Post On


  1. Do you think it’s harder for kids to grow up than it was when we were that age? At 17 I think we felt very mature (though looking back it’s reasonably obvious that we weren’t as grown up as we thought we were!).

    Post a Reply
    • That’s a good question! Maybe it is? I don’t remember my parents giving me much guidance on growing up, but I feel like I’m giving a lot at the moment! I remember how grown up we felt and I’m sure my son feels exactly the same!

      Post a Reply
  2. To a certain degree I think our kids will only learn to become an adult when they live home. I know that I had very little care for my surroundings when I lived at home and wasn’t in charge of the bills or fixing things! You’re right about the flatmates though, you have to learn consideration for others but that usually happens the hard way. Sounds like he’s got a full on year ahead! xx

    Post a Reply
    • You’re very right about leaving home! My mum and dad have always been very clean and tidy, so I remember the shock of how much work went into maintaining a basic level of cleanliness when I went to uni! I don’t want my son to be the one everyone shouts at because he’s making the mess and not clearing up. I’m hoping he will improve in the coming months, but I’m not holding my breath!

      Post a Reply
  3. I found this really interesting because I think you and I tend to think relatively similarly in terms of parenting. Personally though, I think your son has done brilliantly to get a part time job and make the decision about uni himself. I think that things like the job and putting work into exams are part of growing up in that it’s for him to make the decision about getting a better job and putting enough work into his exams. Whilst I’m certain I’ll be encouraging mine in the same way, I am a huge believer in letting children make their own decisions about things like that. This is purely based on my own experience though because I had no freedom or decision making power whatsoever as a child and I found it a really big jump from that to being totally alone at uni and having to decide everything for myself.

    Post a Reply
    • I know that ultimately it will all be his decision whether he puts in enough work for his A Levels etc, all we can do is offer guidance and support. But part of that guidance and support is learning about the consequences if he doesn’t put the work in. Of course he will get there in the end, but it’s so much harder and takes so much longer without those results. We have seen plenty of people do it the hard way and take 10 years to achieve what they should have achieved in three!

      Post a Reply
  4. My son dropped out of Alevels this Easter, with about 6 weeks to go. I was so upset & worried but he’d had enough. Like yours he’s a bright kid & was on track with his exams, I thought it was such a waste but he was adamant. (My hub is a counsellor & told me not to push him back into school if he really didn’t want to be there) ………fast forward a few weeks & he’s now in an apprenticeship and loving it. Don’t worry Sarah, things really will turn out ok, they just get there through a different route.

    Post a Reply
    • That’s really reassuring to read! I’m glad it has worked out well for him, but I can understand how worried you must have been. It’s great that your husband is so understanding, I will have to channel him when challenges arise in the future!

      Post a Reply
  5. It does sound like he has some ideas about his future which is brilliant but as you say, that doesn’t come so easily does it? It does sound like the change of school has been brilliant for him and so hopefully that will help with the A Level results. My eldest was insistent on a year out and he worked for six months of it full time to save money and then travelled for six months and that worked out. It is a really worrying time though as you really want the best for them. Good luck

    Post a Reply
    • Thanks very much! That’s reassuring to know that the year out worked out well for your son. I think that would be my son’s plan too. I now just to persuade him not to visit any dangerous places. For some reason, those are far more interesting too him! I’m sure it’s just so he can brag to his friends.

      Post a Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: