It’s natural for parents to believe that trouble can be avoided by keeping teenagers always in sight, by fixing their every problem, and by generally keeping them under control.
But the truth is that teens will mature quickly, and a season of teenage rebellion can often be avoided, when parents take steps in the early teen years to give up some of the control they have over their teen’s life.
Do parents have the habit of picking up the slack, covering all the bases, answering all the questions, solving all the problems, and making everything easy for their teen? If so, one might not be doing their teenager any favors.
Instead, they may just be keeping their teenager immature, dependent and powerless.
If one wants their child to grow up, and he’s reached the teen years, they may have to learn to let go. One may have to get out of the way. It boils down to one very simple concept—the best way to empower a teenager is to share the power you have always had over them, allowing them more and more power and responsibility for making their own decisions.
Responsibility becomes an internal life force when parents empower a child to make decisions, line out their options, define the consequences, and then let them choose.
If a teenager is fully capable of doing well, communicate that belief to them by giving them more freedoms. Fortunately, most teens want to take control of things in their life—so let them.
As parents back off, they let their teenager know they will be given even more freedoms if they handle the first steps well. And they should make it clear that they will remain in the role of the enforcer of consequences, should they break the rules.
Such consequences could include losing some of their newfound freedoms and losing some of your trust.
Then, let them make their own choices, and also let them bear the full responsibility for those choices. Line out their options, define the consequences for bad decisions, and then let them choose.
Don’t rescue them by not enforcing consequences for their poor choices. And equally as important, don’t forget to congratulate and reward them for making good choices!
Teenagers don’t become responsible or learn to think more maturely by accident. They learn from being in situations where responsibility and maturity is expected and modeled.
That’s why parents should get their child into a part-time job throughout the teen years, and particularly one that is service-oriented.
Probably the biggest mistake of schools today is when they keep kids so busy with after school activities, that there is no time for a job in which teens can learn responsibility.
Outside of what Mom and Dad are expecting of them, nothing can teach a teenager about life and making a livelihood than a job can, whether they need the money or not.
Teens should be given freedom to enhance their initiative ability and responsibility, so, what have you done today to encourage and empower your teenager to put away their childish immaturity?