If you’re like me, you are not crazy about making New Year’s resolutions. For those of you that love making a resolution list and for those like me, let me try to convince you to either include this one resolution on your list or make this one resolution for 2017.
Be a more intentional parent.
When I started blogging almost one year ago, I posed the following 10 questions to my readers. I would encourage you to look them over again (or for the first time if you missed them previously) and decide where you can be more intentional this year. I will break them up into two sets to keep my posts reasonably short. So, here are questions 1-5:
- Does your teen have at least one mentor?
I am not referring to you or your spouse. I believe that every teen needs another set of eyes and ears in his life. With our parenting plan, my wife and I require our teens to have at least 3 mentors. We typically use our pastor, the youth leader, a grandparent and a family friend of our teen’s choice. In case you are wondering, a mentor is simply a trusted counselor or guide.
We attempt to line up at least 3 meetings with each mentor over the course of the plan (3-5 years). We provide our mentors with a guide to help them engage with our teens in a structured way, but ultimately we trust them to provide wise counsel and guidance. The guide can be found at the end of the ROP parenting plan that you may have already downloaded when you subscribed to this blog. If you don’t have a copy of our ROP parenting plan and would like one, simply subscribe to my blog and you will receive an email with a link to download the plan.
2. What standard are you using to teach your teen right from wrong?
My wife and I are evangelical Christians and believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God. We rely on scriptures, the godly wisdom of other Christians, and the guidance of God’s Holy Spirit to live a life that is pleasing to Him. Going to church and getting together with our church family on a regular basis keep us grounded and accountable in our faith. We have leaned on our church family a number of times as we have worked through some difficult parenting challenges.
As such, we are raising our kids on Christian principles and training them in a manner that we believe is consistent with God’s word. The Bible is full of practical advice for daily living and provides our family with a path that, if we choose to follow it, will lead us to do right and avoid wrong.
So, my challenge to you is this: regardless of your religious beliefs, provide your teens a standard for right and wrong and regularly model that standard. Nothing speaks louder than our actions.
3. Does your teen know how to find a mate for life?
My wife and I have talked about this one at great length. Should we let our kids date? If so, when? Should we try to implement a courting model? If so, what does that look like?
In the Relational Module of our ROP parenting plan, we instruct our kids to compile four lists: the qualities they are looking for in a mate, the role of a husband, the role of a wife and their ideal family dynamics. Using those four lists, we construct the framework for dating. There is much to say about this, but suffice it to say that it all boils down to fit and readiness – both of which are very difficult to ascertain. I frequently reflect on the day that I met Monica. We were both ready to consider marriage and, within a few hours (yes, hours), I knew that she was the perfect fit for me. She did not come to that same realization in hours – it took her a few weeks.
4. Does your teen understand the value of a dollar?
God has blessed both Monica and I with hardworking, successful parents who instilled in us a strong work ethic and a desire to help others in need. Even though we have had our needs met and have not wanted for much over the years, we feel compelled to pass along the same values that were taught to us.
To that end, we have been clear with our kids since they were small that we would not be paying for their college and that the best way for them to pay for college is by getting good grades in high school and saving at least half of whatever they could earn through odd jobs and summer jobs. We have always emphasized that their schooling IS their job and to treat it as such. We expect our kids to do well in school, just like we expect them to work hard at anything to which they put their hands. We are confident that it will pay off.
I will use our oldest son as an example because he is now an adult in college. Let me preface my remarks with this comment: My wife and I focus more on the effort than the outcome and we understand that all of our kids may not achieve the same results. Now that that is out of the way…my oldest son worked his tail off in high school and became the valedictorian of his class of about 260 students. His SAT combined score was north of 2200 and he had a perfect 800 on the math section. So, is my son a genius? Anyone who knows him well would probably say that he is not, but that he is one of the hardest workers that they know. I didn’t pull my first all-nighter until college, but my son had many in high school and it was not unusual for him to go to bed after midnight (and not because he was playing video games!).
So, I said all that to say that my son was rewarded for his efforts with a full tuition scholarship from Bentley University which will total over $160,000 by the time he earns his degree! Do you think my son understands the value of a dollar? You betcha!
5. Are you helping your teen decide what they want to be when they grow up?
Do they know what they are good at? What are they passionate about? Do they have a particular gift or skill set that they continually develop? Do you talk to them frequently about their future? Have they job shadowed professionals from varied industries?
There is a lot to think about here, but I believe it is our job as parents to guide our teens and launch them into their future prepared for success. We have found that one of the most valuable exercises in this area is job shadowing. In the Professional Module of our ROP parenting plan, we expect our kids to job shadow at least five different professionals in unique industries. It has proven to be a great tool to determine their level of interest in a particular field. Of course, if you know which way your teen is leaning, it makes good sense to line up job shadowing in her area of interest.
Someone once said that the key to happiness is to know what your are passionate about and to find a way to make money at it. I believe that this is very good advice and that it is our responsibility to instill this in our teens.
There is a lot to think about in this post. Maybe the most important question that I can leave you with is this: Are you being intentional in parenting your teen?
If not, will you add it to your New Year resolution’s list for 2017?
If your answer is yes, please share some things you are doing with your teens by commenting below or adding your reply in the Launch Your Teen Forum.
Questions 6-10 coming next week.
Happy New Year!