Parenting teens takes courage, the kind of courage and perseverance that leads to teen success in adulthood. Raising a teen into adulthood is a journey than can be bumpy with worry. Did you know that your teens are probably worried too? I have taught teens for more than 20 years, and I consistently hear them voice concerns about their futures. If you and your teen are worried about what their future holds, please remember you are not alone.
Helping your teen during these years takes patience and self-awareness. If you want to support your teen and strengthen your relationship at the same time, here are some tips.
- Self-Awareness: Think about your hopes and dreams for your teen. Are they specific? Or broad? Have you thought about hopes and dreams for all the areas of your teen’s life?
- Non-negotiables: Are there any parts of your hopes and dreams that are non-negotiable? I know that may sound strange, but I have found that parents often have things that they are not willing to support.
- Some parents feel strongly about college, while others have clear guidelines for their teen’s friends and love interests.
- At times, parents have told me how strongly they want their teen to carry on the family business.
It is imperative to examine your hopes and dreams, as well as things you will stand firm or be flexible on.
- Listen: Ask open ended questions and listen carefully to the responses. Even if they have dreams that are against what you believe is best for them, listening results in understanding, which will open doors to future discussions where you share your feelings, ideas, and opinions.
- Clear, Answerable Questions: I believe that each part of the teenage journey into adulthood begins with important questions: What career do I want? Should I go to college? What are my hopes and dreams for the future? How can I achieve those dreams? Many times, teenagers come up with big, broad questions. Such questions are complicated to answer because there are smaller, answerable questions that need to be answered first. Here are some smaller, answerable questions that could help a teen answer the bigger question, “What career do I want?”
- What are you good at?
- What are you interested in?
- What kind of money do you want to make?
- Where do you want to work? Office? Virtually? Outdoors?
- Finding Answers: Here are some places to help in the search for answers:
- Career interest surveys or inventories such as https://www.mynextmove.org/explore/ip and https://www.educations.com/quizzes/career-test-21636
- Finding people to interview with questions about careers
- Job shadowing and internships
- Online research sites for careers in general such as https://www.careeronestop.org/
- Researching various employers in fields of interest.
This process is an iterative process, so I highly recommend a “wash, rinse, dry, repeat” approach. Modeling and helping your teen with this process will not only impart and strengthen decision-making skills, but you will probably find that the end result is a closer and stronger family bond as well. Moving into adulthood can become a meaningful journey without worry and trepidation.