Few, if any, expectant parents would view the upcoming 20 years of childrearing as a battle; after all, no parent sees his or her child as an adversary. Instead, parents see their offspring as a valuable gift worthy of protection and care. But – make no mistake about it… Raising a child into adulthood is not a walk in the park! And, if you want to successfully protect your child and prepare him or her to become an independent adult, you would be wise to implement strategies to help prevent common mistakes made by parents of teenagers and young adults.
Failure to establish authority in the home.
Many of today’s parents suffered under heavy handed discipline, while being raised. As children and teens of a generation which encouraged and allowed corporal punishment in the home (and in the schools), there was no shortage of punitive consequences for the slightest infraction! In response, we parents of millennials often fail to establish consequences for rebellion in the home. We don’t want to be accused of following in out parent’s footsteps, so we have tried to relate to our kids as friends – not as ones who need clearly defined expectations and consistent consequences, if expectations aren’t met.
Establishing a clear hierarchy of authority in the home is not unkind – How could anyone successfully go into battle, if someone with more experience and foresight did not establish the plan, oversee the process and lead the troops? Be the Leader your child desperately needs … Friends are a dime a dozen.
Failure to impart wisdom to your child.
In today’s world of information overload, most teenagers and young adults would say that they have all the answers to life’s questions or problems. They have been raised on technology and are able to access any fact, search any blog, vlog or video or connect with hundreds of virtual friends with any question or advice within seconds. Many parents of Millennials, however, aren’t as technologically savvy as their kids. We often feel out of touch, uninformed … and even “old fashioned “, when discussing the cultural, societal and emotional situations that kids face every day.
Because we feel like the generational gap is too wide, we often step aside and allow the opinions, convictions and lifestyle choices of our kids to be shaped by their teachers, peers, entertainment role models or their virtual friends. What a mistake! While we may not have all the answers, we do have something much more valuable: Years of life experience to share with our child and a personal interest/ investment in the well-being of our child that began the moment they were born and will last until our last breathe.
Even when our advice is not followed – or even appreciated – we must keep talking …. Sharing wisdom with our kid, and continually helping him or her correctly evaluate and apply or discard the wisdom that is coming from the culture around him, is one of the best skills we can develop in our child to insure future success. Be the voice of experience and guidance that your child needs in a world filled with no absolutes.
Failure to develop character as well as competence.
We live in a world of accomplishment! The smartest, fastest, strongest and most skilled are applauded and envied. Today’s teenagers and young adults have participated in more training during their childhoods than any previous generation: afternoons, evenings and weekends have been filled with dance, team sports, tutoring, music lessons and many other areas of interest, in order to develop skill that will increase confidence, boost self-esteem and – if we are lucky – even earn a college scholarship.
As parents of Millennials, we have set out to provide every advantage to our children, as they search for their place in the world. We have been able to expose our children to culture, education, and opportunity like no other group of parents – and we are happy to do so. But – in our busyness – and with the best of intentions – we often fail to train the hearts and will of our children with the same focus that we train their bodies and minds.
As we raise our children, if we build muscles, but neglect developing motivation, what have we accomplished?
If we focus on transcripts, but never teach truthfulness and integrity, what have we accomplished?
If we spend hours reviewing playbooks and coaching speed drills, but never teach following the law of the land, respecting those in authority and keeping one’s word, what have we accomplished?
Be the teacher your child needs … first in the areas that can never be taken from him or her, and then, in all others. If you do so, your child will be prepared for a lifetime of success.
Written by Michelle Hiller. Michelle is a Parent, retired Teacher and Advisory Board Member with the Catalyst Collective.