How to Help Teens Find Their Way
By Sandy Schroeder
The teenage years have always been a challenge, but now as the world spins faster there are even more ways for kids to flounder or flourish. John Majors, a writer for FamilyLife, has some suggestions to help teens figure out who they are and what they want to do.
Help them understand and respect authority - Wherever they are in the teen years, there will be many issues that can easily bump into authority. Driving a car, smoking and drinking are all questions for parents and teens to discuss and agree upon the rules up front. If tickets or other issues come up, let the teens work off any charges.
Get to know their friends - As your teens go out there, their friends will be a big part of the picture. Meet their friends and encourage them to spend time at your house. Whatever works, video games and tacos on the patio, projects in the garage, or shooting hoops on the driveway can keep everybody involved, and you aware of how they are all doing.
Help them find their passion - Computers, bikes, music, hiking, or rock climbing may all come up as your teens sample the world. Being there to support their efforts can make all of the difference. I have a cousin who has three teenage boys. She and her husband play instruments, and so do the boys. They enjoy playing together at home and each of the boys plays in an orchestra or combo. If you all enjoy camping or spending time in the garage keep looking for new projects. Sample more interests with community classes in watercolors, crafts, photography, or nature. Each time they try something new they have the opportunity to make more friends and broaden their world.
Consider part-time jobs - If your teen is loaded in school with a heavy class schedule and lots of extra-curricular organizations, part-time work may be too much, but if their schedule is fairly open, a part-time job could help them learn the value of money. They can supply their own gas and snack money or save for something they would love to have.
Find opportunities to talk - Talking after dinner or on the weekends helps to keep you in the loop, but to really sit and talk about their dreams and schemes you may want to plan a few camping trips or weekend getaways.
Each family and teen is different. Go with your intuition as you read your teen. Let them know you love them and you are there for them. The rest will fall in place and create some wonderful memories.
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