All parents know that the teen years are crucial. Your teen needs to explore and mature and navigate the world, but as adults, we know just how much there is to trip them up. How do we help? How do we ‘not smother’ them but still protect our children?
Here are some ideas:-
1. Share the ‘spread your wings’ journey with your teen
Healthy teens will start to spread their wings and you need to help them navigate these new waters. Share mistakes you’ve made in a way that helps them make good choices. Avoid negative lectures on ‘when I was young’ or ‘lessons learned’. Allow them to slip up and help them face the consequences of decisions they make.
2. Don’t mistake intelligence and talent for maturity
If you're blessed with a child who is academically brilliant or a sports star, don’t presume that means they are automatically mature and ready to face the world. Even if they are comfortable being the lead in a school play, doesn’t mean that they feel confident about themselves in the world. There is no ‘magic age’ when they are responsible and mature. Each child will develop at their own pace and in their own way. Be careful of comparing children against each other or against your own development. If you feel your child isn’t keeping up with their peers that may just be their timing – or it may be something you are doing to hold them back. Give it some thought.
3. Practise what you preach
It is your responsibility as a parent to model the life you want your children to live. Teach them to be dependable and accountable both for their words and their actions. In your home – you are the leader – act like it! Be honest, make ethical choices, don’t cut corners and demonstrate a good work ethic. Don’t be scared to admit failings, to say sorry or to ask for help. Your child needs to learn from the very best (you!) how to do this for themselves…
Some final tips:-
1. Talk about the issues you wish you'd known about adulthood.
2. Aid them in matching their strengths to real-world problems.
3. Initiate (or simulate) adult tasks like paying bills or making business deals.
4. Introduce them to potential mentors from your network.
5. Help them envision a fulfilling future, and then discuss the steps to get there.