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Transitioning after secondary school

To better understand

The end of secondary school marks the beginning of the transition into adulthood. The first decision your teen will have to make is what direction their life will take after secondary school. Will they go the CEGEP? Enrol in a DEP (diploma of vocational studies) program? Start working right away? Choose a different path? What will that path be? Who in their social network will follow them and who will go in a different direction? What does the future hold for them?

This is a pivotal time for your teen, as it involves several transitions, greater autonomy and new roles: post-secondary studies (new academic setting) or entering the workforce, changes in their social network (more stability in intimate relationships and relationships with friends), managing their finances and, eventually, leaving the family home. Adulthood also comes with the responsibility of having to assume the consequences of their actions based on society’s rules of conduct (the law). In short, major changes are coming and this can be mind boggling! Also, a proportionately higher number of youth transitioning into adulthood show signs of distress than in other age groups.

In Québec, as in the rest of Canada, it has been observed that youth experience events associated with entering into adulthood later in life than did previous generations. Now, youth often experiment with the various options available to them in their twenties. The personal skills your teen has developed and their level of support will be instrumental in their ability to face these life transitions and will influence their life course, their health and their well-being.

Un père discute avec son adolescent

To better support

Therefore, even though young adults are more autonomous, staying involved as a parent and being their major source of support remains of utmost importance. Moreover, most young adults in Québec aged 15 to 29 live with their parents. This can be explained by the fact that young adults are facing financial issues (longer periods of study, increases in the cost of living, including the cost of housing) and career issues (job instability).

As a parent, you remain their model. It’s therefore important not to minimize your role.

Tips and tricks

  • Show an interest in your teen’s life: their social network, their choices, their plans!
  •  Offer them your help and your availability when appropriate.

In brief

  • First, remember that at the end of adolescence, your teen starts to accept parental advice and values again. Through these experiences, they have formed their own identity, an ongoing process. However, it is important to understand that they still see you, their parent, as a model.

Practical resources and tools

1. For support

If you are concerned about a situation, do not hesitate to reach out to a support worker or a healthcare professional:

Community organizations: family centre, youth centre, etc.

Some community organizations offer support programs for parents of teenagers. Call your local organization for information.

School staff members

2. To learn more

Latest updates: june 2022

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