Some things about raising kids remain the same, but there are some fundamentals that every modern parent needs to keep in mind.
Society has been changing at such a fast rate that it’s sometimes a little difficult to keep up! So imagine how bewildering it must be for today’s youngsters as they navigate their way to adulthood.
What would have worked in the past might not be so applicable today, but there are some key elements of yesteryear missing today — and of course, some fundamentals that teens need to acquire that can be adapted to our modern society.
As a mom of four — two teens and two young adults — it’s been a learning process. My childhood of living in a quiet country town, without all the latest gadgets, is so far removed from my kids’ life growing up in a capital city with digital technology — but I’ve learned a lot!
So here are a few things I believe teens need from parents to become great adults. If you have some good ideas to add, we’d love to hear from you in the comments section!
1Parents as parents — and not best buddies
It’s becoming more common for parents and kids to have a relationship that is a little confusing, with the emphasis on being friends. It’s important, however, to build a relationship in which the parent-child bond is respected, and kids know their boundaries. When there are clearer boundaries, it’s easier to discipline a child and teach them respect.
2To work for what they want
There’s no doubt that our society today is consumer-driven. And when we’re treating our kids with a little gift every time we go to the store, we’re not helping them.
That need for instant gratification needs to be be transformed into patience. If they want to have a new bike then they need to save up pocket money, or money given for chores, or be encouraged to have a little entrepreneurial spirit and get cutting grass or babysitting. Once they start seeing the rewards of their labors, their efforts will multiply and they’ll have a real sense of achievement and fulfillment.
3Knowing how to switch expectations to gratitude
We need to instill in teens that their expectations should be realistic. Yes, they can expect that if they work hard at school they should be rewarded with good grades. But it’s important to develop a sense of gratitude very early on. If we go out with our kids they shouldn’t expect an ice cream, but if they get one they should feel grateful.
It might seem so obvious, but many tired parents fall into the trap of relenting and giving kids what they want just to have a little peace and quiet. This is where you have to be strong — in fact, stronger than your child’s desire to have that ice cream! It’s hard. It’s exhausting. But it will certainly serve a greater purpose.
People often bemoan the lack of manners in kids today. However, it should be pointed out that there are plenty of wonderful youngsters who do have impeccable manners, and a strong desire to help others.
While we no longer live in a society where men take off their hats when they greet someone, we can still think to take off our sunglasses when we stop to chat with someone (even if it’s just for that initial “hello”). We can still encourage our kids to give up their seats for someone in greater need — whether a pregnant woman, an elderly person, or someone with a disability. Manners start at home so be an example by thanking your kids if they do something, holding the door open for them, and asking politely when making requests.
5Permission to make mistakes
Largely due to the internet, there is more than ever to be perfect. (Something older generations did not have to contend with!) So if your child makes a mistake, take the time to talk them through it. What have they learned from their error? How can they avoid doing it again? Allow them to keep things in perspective and they will grow in confidence.
A child’s home should be their safe haven and a place of calm. This is especially true for those living in big cities where there can be an atmosphere of stress and aggression.
More than anything, feeling safe comes from knowing one is loved. Knowing that they can make their mistakes, that they can share their successes, and there will always be someone to support and love them unconditionally, will go a long way.
7Good examples of people of faith
With derogatory remarks — verbally or online — aimed at those who follow a religion, it’s sometimes difficult to stand up and profess your faith. But children can learn from the people they know and love.
Whether they are family members, key members of the community, admirable people in the public sphere, or the thousands of holy men and women of the Church, there are many great people to point to that will show your kids how to live lives of faith and virtue.