Trusting God and local church
Trusting God in the teenage phase, praying for your kids (you have spiritual authority over them)and belonging to a local church we found, is foundational. Yet, we have learned a few things that made this ride a joyful one and I gladly share some tips with you. It is very foundational and yet groundbreaking life skills that we wanted to invest in our kids.
Household chores help with life skills
Teach them to cook and prepare a simple yet healthy meal. It even might help if they can understand how the cost of high dining can destroy a budget! They need to know how to do the laundry, clean their own room and handle household emergencies (like a clogged toilet or drain).
Budgeting and good manners
Teach them on budgeting - please bear in mind that this is an ongoing conversation, like most things in life, when you walk alongside someone. Make sure they understand how to live within a budget (they might not follow your example or advice, but make sure they understand it). It might seem like a real simple thing, but focus on good social skills and good manners. It helps them a great deal if they know how to carry a conversation with adults, with instructors and elderly people. Saying “please” and “thank you” are still good manners! Teach them not to use social media in and during conversations. Explain to them the how, what and where of it.
The Bible teaches us in 1 Corinthians 15:33 that bad company corrupts a good character. Friends influence us more than we want to admit. Help them choose good friends. Do not choose for them. A good friend is someone who will help you to be your best self. Share values that you esteem regarding the choice of friends.
Dating at school
The dating subject was an important subject in our home. I need to rephrase… it is an important subject in our home. We had conversations with our kids since they were very small, on dating. We had a ‘rule’: “no dating until 18”. We are thankful that both our kids honors this. There is a huge difference between love and infatuation. Make sure your teenager understands the difference between a covenantal love you can build a marriage on and on the other hand you have passing infatuation based simply on attraction. Remember the saying “you never forget your first love”? The reason is that the first time you open your heart to this kind of relationship, is the first time you open a file in your head on ‘dating’. It is the first experience, in other words… the one you will remember.
When your kid(s) go out, allow supervised group dates as this allows them to experience social interaction where they can learn the importance of values such as: open doors, listening to others, how you respect each other, how you should speak to each other, not to flirt for attention and honor boundaries. Even with healthy interaction in group interactions, it is important to debrief. Talk to them afterwards about their experience. Get to know the mom and dad of their friends. It is important that you get to know whether or not they share your passion for Christ and beliefs on relationships of opposite sex.
God first in a me first world
My husband and I have realized in our parenting journey that we do not want to raise kids that are entitled, self-obsessed and spoilt. We wanted to raise kids with a “God first” attitude and heart rather than a “Me first” attitude and heart. This does not change in the teenage phase. The hard thing about the teenage phase is that we need to teach them to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.
When our kids turn 13, a very important conversation happens in our home. An adult conversation. Thirteen is a good age, but be sensible. Some kids are “old” at 13, some kids are “young” at 13. You will know if you can have the conversation at 13 (sometimes you will have to wait until they turn 14 or even six months after their 13th birthday). You know what I am saying. Some kids grow up fast, others grow up slowly. It is all okay.
In short, what I am saying is to win over the heart of your child by maintaining open communication lines and loving concern is the best way forward while having to bring up your child during the teenage phase.