Launch: Ages 17 - 18

Release Your Child to Embrace Independence
Launch: Ages 17 - 18 Hero Image Launch: Ages 17 - 18 Hero Image

What is The Launch Step?

We’ve all heard the phrase “failure to launch” describing young men and women who don’t make the transition well into responsible adulthood, which is why we’ve created the Launch step on the Faith Path. Whether your son or daughter is going off to college, joining the military, or entering the workforce, ages 17 to 18 are a crucial time to be intentional about successfully launching them into a God-honoring life. Unfortunately, many parents inadvertently keep their children from growing up due to overprotection and lack of intentionality.

As the parent of an older teen on the verge of adulthood, you are a very important coach. You can’t force feed them, but you can motivate, encourage, challenge, and advise. And while you can help them articulate what they believe, challenge their thinking, remind them of the “basics” already learned during earlier years, the time has come for your child to truly own his or her own beliefs and choices.

Put It Into Practice

Here are some ways you can provide a listening ear as they wrestle with and possibly question the values they learned as a child while maintaining a strong relationship that includes frequent, open dialogue.

  • Give perspective concerning big questions. During the transition into adulthood, your son or daughter will face big questions including: Where should I go to college? What kind of work should I do? Where should I live? What should I do with my life? Who should I marry? Direct your child back to overarching biblical principles. The last words of King David to his son Solomon (in 1 Chronicles 28:9) provide a model for parents advising emerging adults: “And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind.” Amid the practical advice parents may offer on setting goals, choosing a job, finding a spouse, and so forth, we must also elevate the importance of making decisions in light of the scriptures.
  • Give a vision for marriage and family. Parents often go to extremes to help a child prepare for college or the workforce but don’t know exactly what they can do when it comes to preparing them for the more important work of marriage and family. While a small minority will be called to life-long celibate service, most young people are called to marriage and family (Genesis 2:18-24). We sometimes overlook how much marriage and family serve as the organizing structure of life and the prime arena for our spiritual development. You have a vital part to play in helping your child leave your nest and cling to their future spouse.
  • Make the most of the time. While leaving home is a healthy and good process, it can be emotional for parent and child alike. Ease the pain by using the remaining time your son or daughter has at home to create lasting memories. Spend quality time together connecting and talking about the exciting adventure of adulthood.

Next Steps

Here are three final ways you can give your child the best opportunity to succeed and make an easy transition:

  1. Choose a particular book or resource to go through together. Schedule coffee dates to talk through specific topics.
  2. Plan a special time together to discuss the Before You Leave resource (provided below). Use the conversation to identify areas that might require some coaching before they leave.
  3. Amid the last-minute packing and tearful goodbyes that accompany launching your young adult from the nest, stop to spend a few minutes writing him or her a letter of blessing to encourage your child. Let them know that you are praying for them during this season of transition.

Sample Blessing Letter

Dear _____________________:

I received you as a gift from God on _______________. I now give you back to Him as you leave home to __________________. Being your parent has been one of the greatest privileges of my life. And while our daily relationship will now change, my love and prayers for you will never end.

I will ask our heavenly Father to protect, guide and bless you as you enter an exciting new season of life. I plan to cheer you on as God uses you to impact His world. [perhaps mention specific areas of your child’s skills/interests]

I will pray that God will give you grace to maintain your faith and integrity when you face inevitable struggles and temptations. He made you for a purpose. If you stay in God’s Word and follow His leading, I know you will become all that He made you to be!

I want you to know I am very proud of you. I am only a phone call away if you ever want to talk or need advice or wisdom.

I love you __________________. I can’t wait to see how God will use you in the years to come!

Love, ___________________________

Before you Leave

It can be both emotional and exciting to help your child leave the nest. Before they pack up and drive away, plan for a weekend or day together doing something fun. Use the time to go through a checklist of basic life skills they’ll need and helpful items that can set them up to succeed. The topics below can help guide a conversation that highlights a few areas in which your child might welcome some final coaching to make sure they’re ready to go.

CAR: Are you confident handling basic car issues such as changing a tire, checking tire pressure, and fluid levels?

  • TIP: If moving to a new town, help your child identify a reputable mechanic in the area.

LAUNDRY: Do you know how to wash and dry a load of laundry? Colors and whites?

  • TIP: Consider a fun trip to the laundry mat for your child to figure out how to use a different machine than you have at home.

FOOD: Can you cook a few nutritious meals?

  • TIP: Let your son/daughter choose a meal and guide them through the preparation and cooking process. Enjoy the time together as you create a fun memory that teaches them how to care for their body!

MONEY: Do you have a budget?

  • TIP: Consider going online to to download budget forms to fill in with your child.

HEALTH: What doctor will you visit if you get sick?

  • TIP: Help your child have a plan for any medical emergencies and/or find a new doctor if moving to a new town.

CHURCH: If moving to a new town, what church will you attend?

  • TIP: Talk through what to look for (and not look for) in a good church. Not just, “Is the music good?” or “Are the people friendly?”, but “Do they stand for truth and point each other to Jesus and clearly preach God’s Word?” As pastor Paul Washer put it, “Don’t look for the nearest church to your house. Find the church closest to the Bible.”

Also, consider visiting different churches together with your child and then discussing what he/she did and didn’t like. It’s also helpful to get information on Christian campus organizations and ministries.

COLLEGE CAMPUS: If going to school, are you confident you’ll be able to find your classes?

  • TIP: Take time to walk around campus together and help your child get a good feel for where everything is located.

Additional Resources

©Inkling Innovations 2019, updated Watermark Community Church 2023.