As adults, it can be hard to identify what your children’s needs are. It seems to change with every moment and with every mood. Obviously there are basic needs however, what kinds of ways can you best shape your kids when it comes to discipline, behavioral issues, and even core values. It’s not like you can have control over their beliefs and actions forever. There are plenty of books, documentaries, online courses, and blogs on the answers to these things however, I want to give you my point of view as a high school student. Here are 5 tips on providing for your children past basic needs from the point of view of a student.
• Faith. We may not be the smartest, wisest, and most understanding people. Teenagers’ brains are not completely developed and still in a season of shaping. This sometimes means that parents have little faith in our ability to make decisions. While teens understand this lack of trust to a certain extent, we want freedom. This doesn’t mean to let down all of your guards and confide fully in your teen. Instead, find a healthy balance of trusting your child to make decisions. If they are having problems, you can continue to encourage them to get involved with a ministry like Forge to enforce an adult influence in their lives.
• Optional Solitude. I understand the overwhelming feeling of a parent trying to be there in the ‘perfect’ way for their kids. Sometimes this comes out to being overly involved and protective. But seriously, at times the best thing that can be done is just give space. This alone time doesn’t mean we are getting in trouble or doing bad things. We need to find ways to process our days and the things going on in our lives. This, most of the time, is done with space and solitude.
• Respect. We aren’t adults yet, but we do want to be respected. We can make decisions, we have opportunities to be responsible and irresponsible, we have the chances to decide what we are interested in. While we may choose wrong in all of these things, we want our decisions to be respected. Making big decisions in life can be scary and even when we make a wrong one, we want to be shown respect like an adult would.
• Guidance. We are not meant to go through life alone. While we do want some time alone, most teens know that they need guidance in one way or another. We don’t want to feel abandoned. If your student has trouble accepting guidance, it is helpful to speak with them about the importance of having adults in their lives to build them up. We may be resistant to this in some ways, however we want to be respected and have these deeper conversations eventually.
• Encouragement. It is never fun to be scolded and grounded. While at times it is necessary, make sure that you are giving encouragement and noting positive choices and influences going on in your student’s lives as well. We need this encouragement to feel like we are on a right track. If there seems to be no positive parts, maybe you can look at how you can promote some of the first four subjects in this article to see some change in your student’s lives.
You may notice that the first letter of each of these items come together to spell FORGE. These are the actions we endorse at Forge Youth Mentoring. We know it can be hard to support your children as they start to grow and change. However, we are here to restore the lost relationship between generations in our community and encourage you as you work to do the same.