The U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services has designated July as Purposeful Parenting Month, so let’s think about what this means when it comes to your teenager. Purposeful parenting is about being an active, engaged parent, and providing your adolescent with the best support to enable a meaningful future life. Here are six things you need to know or do to be a more purposeful parent.
- Adolescents Live in the Present
Teens in the early and middle years of high school are not usually spending a lot of time thinking about college and the future. They might just want to hang out with friends, listen to the latest music, or play video games. It’s important to understand that teens typically live in the here and now. To adolescents, the future seems way off in the distance. However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to instill some sense of direction into your teen’s life as preparation for the years ahead.
- Teens May Be Afraid
One of the main reasons many teenagers seem to have little ambition about their future is because they are scared of it. Adolescents are reluctant to acknowledge and admit their fears, especially to their parents, but most are afraid of the responsibilities they’ll face when they are no long living at home. They also worry they won’t be able to get a good job. And, these days, going to college often means ending up with a huge debt. These concerns make looking ahead scary and uncertain.
- Keep an Open Mind
Adolescents can have interests that their parents don’t particularly like or think worthwhile. However, it’s hard to have a close relationship with your teen if you belittle their interests. Instead, engage your teenager in conversation. For instance, if your adolescent enjoys video games, ask them what aspects of gaming they find the most interesting – the technology, the story-line, the graphics, the competition between players? Offer your adolescent opportunities they will find appealing. For example, you might arrange to tour a studio that creates video games. A supportive approach can help create self-direction and motivation in your teen.
- Share Your Own Sense of Purpose
Talk to your teen about what you find purposeful and meaningful in your life and work. Don’t concentrate on how much money you make; rather, try making your teen understand how work serves essential social needs and can also fulfill a personal sense of purpose. If you have a job that you aren’t happy with, talk to your adolescent about how they have the opportunity to do something more purposeful with their lives.
- Find Mentors
Adolescents often look to people outside their homes for ideas and inspiration to help them find their own pathways. Be proactive in finding and introducing your teen to people who will inspire them. If your teen’s interest in something increases, give them encouragement to motivate them to learn even more.
- Encourage Adventure
If your teen has a deep interest in something, encourage them to dive in more deeply by:
- Fostering a can-do, optimistic, attitude.
- Helping to set clear goals and realistic attainment plans.
- Brainstorming possible solutions to difficulties.
- Encouraging persistence.
- Supporting risk-taking to learn new skills.
A Purposeful Relationship with Your Teenager is Possible
Your job as a parent is to create an environment where self-motivation is most likely to flourish. Purposeful parenting is not easy. So, if you find you are having problems with your teen that are impeding your attempts to be a purposeful parent, talk to Doorways to find out how we can help. An initial consultation is free, so take a purposeful step towards solving your problem with your adolescent, by giving us a call.