I have not been doing as much writing recently on teenage development, culture, or formation. Today, I want to speak on a topic that is hopefully beneficial for those who both work with teens and are raising teens themselves. Now I know that my children are still younger, and I have a decade before I am parenting teens, I do read and study things regarding this topic by people who have and are a lot smarter than I am. With that being said, I want to talk about what I believe to be the primary role in raising and forming teens into young adults who will thrive in the world on their own.
Strive to connect with teens over correcting.
Teens are just a few years away from moving on to the real world and being on their own. The teenage years are a great time for parents and adult mentors to slowly hand the reigns to the teens and teach them to make decisions on their own under your direction. Teaching teens to handle money – and sometimes letting them learn what it looks like to blow it all and have none. When teens turn 18 and move out, we want to make sure that they do not graduate from our lives. Parents and mentors do not want teens to leave permanently from the house and never come back and visit or to be counting the days where they leave, and you never have them back.
When we instill learning and discipline as a young child and raise them in Jesus, we are able to begin shifting to a role where we connect and work as a guide as they grow older. This does not mean you do not teach or discipline at all, but you begin to offer advice more than demands.
If you are passive in the younger years, you will end up over-correcting in the teenage years.
Teach teens that their decisions have consequences which they must face. They forgot a project for school? This does not mean you run home from work and get it to take them. Maybe this is a great opportunity to teach them responsibility. When we are constantly swooping in to rescue and save the day, we are teaching that consequences do not really exist.
This idea is going to look differently in every situation, so I am keeping this brief. Rather than attempting to speak on a number of examples which may or may not help, I am going to give the broad strokes and let you put it into context in your situation.
Adults, make connecting with teens priority to correcting them. This is easier said than done, but here are a few ways we can do this.
- Teach that decisions have consequences. Allow for failure and offer a teaching opportunity for this.
- Create a relationship that teens want to return to even after adulthood. Do not create an environment where teens only come back out of obligation, but where they WANT to come visit.
- Instill discipline earlier and sparingly into teenage years. Allow for natural consequences and offer advice as someone older. “Because I said so” is not the go to answer and offers little help for teens growth in thinking for themselves. Obviously, there is a time and place for it, but try to teach them to think through this themselves.
- Lastly, continue to foster in them a relationship with Jesus. However, begin teaching them to think through what this means for them. It is okay for them to doubt and have questions, help them think critically about what they believe and why.