The Most Powerful Parenting Tips (from Successful Teens)
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As I sit in the classroom of my former school, I think about what it was like thirty-five years ago when I was a teenager sitting in these exact same desks.
There were no cell phones or computers, no social media, no select sports, and no SAT prep classes. Well, at least not one that I took.
I greet the seniors as they are coming into my AP English class and ask them how they are doing. I am a substitute teacher and have not seen these kids in a while.
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Most of them are begging to play games or sleep in my class because their minds and bodies are just plain tired, yet they have assignments from other classes that look like only a rocket scientist could figure out.
Truthfully, I know they are about to hit another wave of stress and exhaustion when they graduate. Life is going to get exponentially more difficult than what they are feeling right now. They’ll figure it out soon.
The Most Important Decisions in Life
What I really want to tell them during this class period is the most important decisions in life happen between the ages of 16 and 25. That is you, right now!
Everything I am today, at 50 years of age, was mostly decided back in those precious years they are in now. My career, spouse, values, habits, and faith were mostly solidified by the age of 25, but the foundation was laid much earlier. And, ironically, at this school.
What I also want to say is the ages of 16-25 are the most carefree and careless years. What they do in secret is who they really are. The habits (good or bad) they are developing will probably stay with them throughout life.
I know their teachers and parents have been telling them this for years. But I have the urge to say it one more time…just in case. Again, I keep my mouth shut. Miraculous!
As I start talking to them, I realize they are definitely prepared academically as well as spiritually. They are going to be fine. Perhaps, I have something to learn from them instead.
Powerful Parenting Tips from Successful Teens
Once I realized I had some of the best kids in the school, I decided to ask them what their parents did right. There had to be a secret sauce. I bet I could learn some powerful parenting tips from them.
Kids like this do not just randomly happen.
They are cut, molded, and polished over many years. Instead of making them do any assignments this class period…we talked. Here are the six things I learned about the parents (and teachers) who developed these successful teens:
1. Positive reinforcement
They all said they were so thankful for the positive reinforcement given to them by not only their parents but the teachers. They liked it when they were caught doing “good.”
2. Relationship with parents
Each student reinforced the fact they had a good relationship with their parents. It wasn’t always perfect, but they knew they were loved. The relationship was strong enough that they didn’t want to disappoint them.
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3. Real-world experience
They all loved it when their parents trusted them with some real-world experience (freedom). One person said that being too strict can create a liar. I tried to explain that priveledges needed to be earned. I think that may have passed over their heads.
4. Being relatable
They liked it when their parents told them about their own mishaps as a young person. They wanted parents to be honest about their mistakes and remember what it was like to be a teen. Get real, parents!
They appreciated it when their parents were approachable. They said they hated it when their parents overreacted to the small stuff. When they did that, they were less likely to tell their parents about the big stuff. Ouch, I am pretty sure I did that as a parent.
6. Balanced rules
The seniors said they wanted the rules to make sense. “Because I said so…” was a real pet peeve. They liked knowing why they can’t or shouldn’t do something. They appreciated it when their parents or teachers took the time to explain “why.”
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Final Thoughts on Successful Teens
From my conversation with the senior AP class, I gathered most of them have parents on the firmer side. They expect a lot out of them, but they are reasonable for the most part. There is a solid relationship built that will weather the storms.
As a parent, I can say this age is hard. There is a balance of earned trust mixed with fear because you know your teen is curious and a bit foolish still. There is this constant push and pull before your baby flies out of the nest.
I appreciate the seniors giving other parents the most powerful parenting tips. If I could sum it up in a few sentences from them it would be the following:
“Thank you for developing a relationship with us and encouraging us to be the best. Trust us with what we have learned. We will make you proud. When we do mess up (and we will), please continue to love us as your own.”
Don’t forget to pray for your kids!
Got Family Problems? There is Help and Hope!
Are you experiencing family problems or even estranged? Are you feeling shame, anger, or rejection? Check out my book Estranged: Finding Hope When Your Family Falls Apart on Amazon or at your favorite digital store.
This book not only talks about my seven-year estrangement from my Christian family, but it also gives solid tips to help you with your own family problems. Break free from your pain. Allow God to heal you no matter what has happened in your family of origin. There is hope when your family falls apart.
Creating Family Memories Book
Get Creating Family Memories. This book will help you manage your family in a way that allows more time to be intentional with your kids. It includes a schedule too. You can get it at your favorite bookstore.
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