Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Raising Teenagers

It's one of the most debated and fretted-over problems of all time. Raising teenagers. I don't mean just keeping them out of jail and the maternity ward before marriage. I mean how do you raise hard-working, nice people, with good character and integrity? People you like to spend an afternoon or a life with. People you trust with your good name. And the keys to the family car.

We have some wonderful teenagers in our family, I'm pleased and proud to say. And they have some really wonderful friends. I know that sounds kind of like I'm tooting our horn, but I don't mean it that way at all. Much of the credit we give to Divine Intervention. We've had many blessings in our lives, including a wonderful extended family network, and good friends who share our Faith. But, my husband and I have really thought hard, worked hard and prayed hard on all of these children cum teenagers, too. It would be wrong to give the impression that childraising is just a matter of luck and isn't a lot of work. Believe me, we have not been without mishaps and mistakes with our growing teens. We're the first to admit that. But, in our floundering, God's made sure we've stumbled upon some good ground rules for raising up good people. Mostly we've learned that we've got to continue to pray for His mercy and grace on us all.

This whole subject is much on my mind right now, with all our big kids home, and I thought I'd write a post on it, but it struck me that it might be more telling to go straight to the guinea pigs source. I definitely have some of my own ideas on the subject, and I still may write my own post. But, I wanted to hear the kids' take on it. What impresses them the most? What do they think it takes to raise great teenagers?

I asked seven of them who happened to be hanging around here this afternoon. And here's what they wrote.

How to Raise Great Teenagers
(Written By Great Teenagers)

*In my opinion the most important factor of how to raise a great teenager is to raise them great before they're teenagers. To raise them with an equal mix of love and discipline and to not be too strict or give in to their every desire. Most importantly to instil a love of God and a desire to please Him.

*In my opinion, treating each person differently, according to their own needs and personality creates an atmosphere conducive for success - there's no one way to raise everyone.

*One thing that sticks out in my mind about how my parents raised my sister and I is they always had to draw the line somewhere. This went for everything like dating, curfew, going out to do things with friends, who our friends were etc etc. Growing up we hated that line because it was never where we wanted it, but now when I look back it was right where it needed to be.

*A huge factor in a teenager's conduct and personal developement of character is finding a way to keep God important in their life. There is nothing easier for a teenager to dismiss God as a childish thing, or at least nothing to be taken seriously; finding a way to make God seem, indeed the first priority, and an adult one, as well, is key to any teenager's being "great".

*Never assume that your parents know exactly what you mean by something. We must make ourselves very clear when saying something that could be misinterperated. I think one of the biggest problems between teenagers and their parents is not communicating what we mean effectivly.

*I think that one of the more important things to raising a teenager is to make them work. This builds their character and also keeps them occupied...

*I think an important thing to raising a teenager is breaking them of bad habits when they're younger. You should give them love and attention, but also show discipline and not bend to their will. You should also keep God an important factor in their lives.

(Woops. A smudge on the lens, doggonit! I'll replace this pic with a clear one as soon as they all show up again...)

Food for thought for me, I know. I wouldn't be surprised if they've been talking about it since they've been out tonight, and have come up with some other suggestions for us. I'll have to ask them. I've got to admit, I'd love to know what they'd say if they weren't writing it out for Mom. I know they firmly believe the points they made, but I bet there are more they might not feel as comfortable sharing on this public platform. I did put them rather on the spot. Thanks to our young ladies and gentlemen for being good sports and playing along. I may keep this list and give it back to them in a few years (twenty or twenty-five years, maybe...)

**For oodles and caboodles of other great tips on a world of topics, visit Shannon over at Rocks in My Drier.


JAN said...

Great list of ideas guys! (and girls.:-) )
I'm sure your parents must be very proud of all of you.

Hadias said...

That was a great challenge to give them. Thanks for sharing.

ames said...

What a great way to get their perspective and to also encourage them to think about themselves and their own upbringing. They sure sound like great kids!

Memarie Lane said...

I was a great teenager because me sister was so terrible, LOL.

She practised witchcraft, ditched school, ran away so often the police stopped coming to our house, had a baby at 16. I was so determined to be the opposite of my sister that I was every parent's dream teenager. The funny thing about that is that it backfired... My parents to this day believe that I must have been really bad but kept it well hidden.

j.a.varela said...

Thanks! Excellent post.


Alexandra said...

Thanks...great tips to remember!

SuzyQ said...

What eloquent and well thought out responses to your question.
I've been thinking on this myself recently as my eldest daughter is entering the tweenage phase.
In many ways I think, emotionally she needs me more than ever now. Even more than when she was really small. I pray that I wll be able to do as good a job as you have. You have some pretty great kids there.
Thanks for sharing these thoughts :)
God Bless

Bia said...

This was great . . . especially now that my 13 year old is starting to try us. Raising children is definitely hard work, and I just keep reminding myself that we're not just raising children, we are raising souls!

I loved reading what your teens said, and tomorrow I'm going to let my boys read their comments.

You have a wonderful family. God bless.

Marie said...

What a powerful testament to a strong family life and it does take work.

I am thankful that my mother was not my best friend but instead remained my parent throughout my childhood. Friendship comes later.

I am thankful to both my mother and father for their guidance in teaching me Principles, Honour and courage..What a lovely family you have:)God bless you all.

Peace & love to you

Marie xoxoxoox

GrandmaK said...

What wonderful insights these young people have to offer...As I read this I realized that time changes little in the ways of the world. My five are all gone now, but as I look back I hear the same perspective coming from them. We talked and listened and sometimes understood each other. And when we didn't understand we talked again. This was TREMENDOUS! My admiration and praise to them all!! Cathy