Every parent dreams of raising successful children. What are the values that make them so?
Olympians don’t end up at their ultimate destination by chance – it is the small decisions that they make along the way to stay committed to their rigorous training that lead them to their grand stage. This process actually spans years, taking root long before they are even a teenager. In a sense, the Olympians live in the moment with continuous rigorous training but with an eye on the future. It helps put things in perspective when the training gets tough and rough.
Just as Olympians have a coach to guide them, we need to coach our teens and prepare them for the rigors of life. The cliché is true: Values are more often caught than taught.
Actions speak louder than words. For years, your teens have followed you — sometimes resisting, sometimes not. They determine what is important based on their observations of you. If this thought makes you cringe, don’t let your past failures stop you from showing love and patience today. As we live out positive character traits, our children will begin to emulate them. Here are a few to start with:
As parents, let’s right our wrongs by saying, “I’m sorry”. Our children will forgive others more easily when they’ve experienced forgiveness at home.
Teens need to hear us say, “Thank you” when they help with chores. Especially thank them if they confide in you. Teens tend to share their secrets and struggles with their friends, so if they pick you to talk to — stop and listen. Let them vent and cry if they need to. Offer understanding and comfort instead of a long lecture. Ask if they want your advice.
When you do give advice, talk about how to handle temptation before your teen attends a party or an event. Encourage firm boundaries. Talk about the consequences of premarital sex and share your personal story if it is relevant. When your teen is walking out the door, say, “I believe you’ll make wise choices tonight.”
Are you showing your teen mercy when they need it? Next time your son or daughter disappoints you, shake things up a bit. Offer a hug and forgiveness instead of a hard word and see what happens. There are times when that treatment isn’t the best option. But there are also times our kids desperately need grace.
If we show our teens compassion, they learn to be compassionate, which carries into their jobs, schools, relationships and into their marriages. When people are hurting, they need a safe place and empathy — not judgment. Inspire your teens to be that place for someone in need.
In a “me-focused” world, we need to challenge our youth to see beyond their own needs and wants. We start by serving our teen and others in need. Simple gestures go a long way. For example, cook their favorite dishes for a meal or drive them to their activities when they are running late.
Raising successful children relies on our everyday examples, as these are the most powerful influences to train our teens in character. We authenticate and validate what we believe, not by what we say but by what we do. When the true tests come and your teen makes a stand based on the values you have imparted, then you know that he has obtained the prize of character.
Used with permission from Focus on the Family Singapore. For more information on family life resources and workshops, visit www.family.org.sg.
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