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When Lola asked me to write about this particular subject, I thought the timing of this assignment was incredibly ironic. My oldest child is preparing to graduate from high school in less than a month, and it will only be a matter of weeks before he leaves our home to begin his next life chapter in college.
At this point in my child’s life, I cannot help but glance back at his childhood, as well as these past few teen years, and hope to goodness that for the most part my husband and I got it right. He’s such a great kid. I just hope and pray we gave him all the tools he will need for this next part of his life journey.
My parents used to say to us, kids, “We’re not a blueprint, so don’t look to us as though we are one. We’re not. Like everybody else, we are just simply doing the best we can with what we’ve got, and then we just hope to God it’s been enough to raise you four to be good, upstanding and loving citizens in this world.”
I now spout off this very same “Blueprint diatribe” to my own kids. When one of mine tell me that I’ve screwed them up in one way or another, I’ll say, “Aw man, well, I sure hate that. Just make sure you don’t do it that way with your own kids one day. You’ll be much better at this thing than me, I’m sure.” (Then I’ll giggle to myself thinking, “Yeah right,” in my most self-righteous inner voice.)
The main thing I’ve discovered during these last few years is that humor is the saving grace during the teen years. I am not kidding. You better be ready to laugh it up!
If you are not able to laugh at some of the idiotic things your teenager is going to get themselves entwined, then, Honey, you might as well go ahead and get fitted for your white suit. Make sure there’s enough room in there for you to huddle up in a corner somewhere where you can rock back and forth sucking your thumb while humming, “Mary had a little lamb”. If you can’t laugh at some of what’s comin’, sister, you are in for a long, hard ride. Lol! Laughter will become your salve.
Here’s the truth of the matter; the teen years aren’t the easiest years for anybody. Just ask teenagers and then turn around and ask their parents.
But here’s the good news. They can be. They absolutely can end up being the greatest and most fun years of your lives together. However, you must understand that what best determines the success or failure of those teen years is actually how you choose to raise your children during those childhood years that lead up to those teenage years.
When you think of a respectful teenager, you most likely think of a kid who is polite, courteous, confident, loving and above all, just plain kind to others.
We all love kids like that.
We all want kids like that, right?
Well, how do you suppose we accomplish this? What could be the parental formula to raising respectful teens? Not perfect teens. Good, kindhearted, respectful ones.
Look, if there really was a formula for it, we’d all go broke trying to purchase it.
It doesn’t exist.
However, there are some tried- and true- ways that seem to help steer children in a direction that inspires them to become, not only respectful teens, but very successful and revered adults.
Here are just a few, and it all starts with:
Respect is imperative.
Studies have shown that children who are taught and raised to fully love and respect themselves are more apt to love and respect others, as well.
The key is to start etching into their young hearts that what matters most in this world is not what others think of them, but what they think of themselves.
<<Quick tip>>Never allow your child to participate in any negative self-talk. You do not want them to get into a bad habit of putting themselves down. Build them up. Teach them how to build themselves up.
Also, talk with them about the importance of encouraging others.
Here is what I’ve come to discover; a child who is able to encourage and build others up, is a child who oozes confidence. And confidence is a beautiful thing!
LIGHT ‘EM UP WITH YOUR LIGHT
Yes. Let your child visibly see you light up when he/she walks into a room. This is such a simple way to give them mounds of self worth. Stop them in their tracks and say something like, “Child, I don’t know why I get to be this lucky to have you for my baby, but I sure am grateful!” Outwardly, they may roll their eyes or look at you like you have three heads, but on the inside, their spirit is soaring. I know this firsthand because my parents did this with me my whole life. Still, to this day, my mom lights up when she sees me. J
<<Quick tip>> Don’t be shy to “light them up” in front of others.
Just the other day, I walked into the orthodontist’s office for my appointment and to my surprise, Steele, my oldest, was checking out at the front desk. I stopped mid-stride and said, (in front of the workers and all the people in the waiting room,) “Oh. My. Gosh. Do I see the sweetest boy in the whole world right in front of my eyes right now?” Of course, Steele laughed, (as that was part of my purpose) and then said, “Yes, Mama.” (in this goofy voice) He immediately gestured for me to give hima hug.
Everyone laughed with us, and it was a fun moment together.
Empower your child every chance you get. Explain to them that we all have a great purpose in this world, and that our purpose is imperative to our life journey. When a child begins to fully realize the potential for their purpose in this life, it empowers them to begin thinking and dreaming about their future in the most positive way!
One of the hardest, yet most worthwhile lessons a child can learn, (which could only help them when they become a teenager), is the ability to choose happiness. A teen who recognizes that happiness truly is a choice, is a teen who has the ability to lead a nation. Happiness is contagious. It’s infectious and these teens become magnets for those searching for the calm satisfaction happy people possess. They become pillars of great strength and character.
<<Quick tip>> It’s easier to help your child implement this action if you can do so yourself.
Raising a child to learn the value of extending grace to his family and friends is giving them a gift that will become an integral part of the legacy he will leave behind. Forgiving another who hurt you is hard for many of us, but for those whose parents helped them make forgiveness a habit at a young age, it’s simply, for them, the right thing to do. This is one of those strengths of character that costs nothing, but is more precious than gold. Teens who forgive easily are usually extended the same kind of grace in return. This is a trait to be revered.
TRUSTING THE JOURNEY
Visit with your child about the importance of trusting their own life journey. When a child grows up knowing and believing that every single thing that happens in their life (good or bad) is meant to strengthen their soul and help propel them to their ultimate greatness, they are better able to handle the setbacks of life.
<<Quick tip>> At some point in your child’s life, they will experience a hurt, a heartache or a terrible set back of some sort that has them feeling like their whole world is falling apart. Please do not let them wallow in their despair for too long. This is dangerous and doesn’t help anything. Please remind them that sometimes when it feels like their whole world is falling apart, what is actually happening is their world is simply falling into place.
Their only job, during times like that, is to remain calm and trust the journey set before them.
THE MASTER KEY
There are so many ways to help build a confident, respectful child. But there is one master key component to every single point made above. It is so simple and yet so powerful. If you can raise your child to have this one trait, you can rest assured that you did the greatest thing possible for this world. Your child will possess the key that has the potential to open doors, break down barriers and calm life-storms. This“master key” is kindness.
Friends, raise your child to be a genuinely kind and caring soul and they will become a teen that is not only respectful of others, but a teen who will be respected and revered byothers.
One last thing…Parents, remember to always, always, always “keep it real. “
“A Mom’s Prayer” by Teri Netterville
Life is about making choices
Life is also full of great hope
It’s about trusting your gut and keeping the faith
Even when on life’s slippery slope
It’s about choosing to believe in your dreams
It’s about choosing to follow your heart
It’s about heeding that inner voice
Which is sometimes the hardest part
It’s a choice to be good and satisfied
It’s a choice as to how you relate
To people, to animals and to God’s great earth
And especially your choice in a mate
Choose to get involved
My soul! What a difference you’ll make
Be courageous, be bold and take great risks
Even WHEN your ALL is at stake
Be adventurous and trust your journey
Be good to others along the way
Derive joy from another’s success
And they’ll do the same for you one day
Strive for greatness in all that you do
Encourage others to do the same
Do your best to live with no regrets
And work hard to leave a great name
Love until it hurts, my love
Choose happiness and have a ball!
Life is meant to be full of fun
So, give God the Glory for it all!