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Parenting Teenagers: 7 Tips to Guiding Your Children to Adulthood

Updated on October 24, 2013


In June 2009, 2010, and again in 2011, our three eldest children graduated from high school. Each graduation event, I was filled with pride as our two daughters and one son walked the aisle with two special sashes and a gold medal around his neck signifying the hard work he put in to graduate with high honors. In light of my overwhelming pride as a parent, I am aware that this is a dangerous hub to write because the principles may seem to be mixed with a bit of arrogance. Yet, all three graduated in good standing with high quality grades and successfully navigated the strains of adolescence and peer pressure. Now, in 2013, they all continue to excel in their own ways and continue to be good citizens. No, they are not perfect. They all have some maturity issues, but none slipped into alcohol or drugs or premarital relations. I believe it is due to some important principles. With fear and trepidation, I offer these tips knowing that my children are not perfect and my wife and I are far from perfect parents and role models. Indeed, it seems our children are succeeding in spite of our numerous shortcomings.

The seven parenting tips or principles which I believe contributed most to our children's success thus far include:

  1. Being present in their lives.
  2. Believing in their potential.
  3. Celebrating their successes.
  4. Not ignoring nor overemphasizing their shortcomings.
  5. Guiding them into good surroundings.
  6. Praying every day that God will overcome your mistakes.
  7. Introducing them to God at an early age.

Be Present to Listen to Your Child

Open communication
Open communication | Source

Be Present in Your Teens' Lives

The first tip to guide your teens to adulthood is to be present in their lives. My wife and I are far from perfect parents but one of the things we did right was to be present and involved in our children's lives. This does not mean we doted over them at every moment or that we micro-managed their activities and or actions. We were simply close by if they needed us and did not allow the school system or some group of nannies to be surrogate parents in our stead. My wife was particularly good at asking the right questions without being too invasive. Be present in your teens' lives and they are more apt to make a successful the transition to adulthood.

What do you think?

What is the most effective way to lead teenagers into adulthood?

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Believe in Your Teen's Potential

The second tip to guiding teens to adulthood is to believe in their potential. Each young person has been gifted with their own set of inate competencies. Those competencies may not meet up with what you as a parent think or want, but they are real and present unique opportunities for your teen to succeed to your wildest expectations. Believe in them even when they don't believe in themselves and they will traverse the badlands of adolescence to become well-adjusted adults. I am into sports but my two oldest children are not athletic at all. My son is into computer-aided drawing and industrial design. On a personal level I could not really relate, but that is what my son did well. Allowing him to do his thing to the best of his ability landed him number six in the nation in technical drafting. Believe in your teen's potential and they will have confidence to wade through to adulthood.

Celebrate Your Teen's Successes

A third tip to guide your teens to adulthood is to celebrate their successes. Like many dad's I can get pre-occupied and not always be present even when I may be in the room or the house. However, when my children did something well we went out and celebrated their successes. Whether it was a hit in a baseball game or a good report card or reaching some kind of milestone, we made time to celebrate and show how proud we were at their accomplishment.

Don't Ignore or Overemphasize Your Teen's Shortcomings

A fourth tip for guiding your teen to adulthood is to not ignore or overemphasize your teen's shortcomings. Kids do not always do the right thing. They make moral mistakes and sometimes exercise poor judgment. If you ignore their mistakes then they will never learn how to be good citizens in society. If you berate or constantly hold their mistakes over them they will either rebel or simply quit. When our kids lie we attempt to show them how that behavior will affect their future lives. For instance, we might tell them that future friends or employers may not trust them if they lie or employers will fire them for being lazy and not finishing the job. However, we never withhold our love or stop believing in their potential. To successfully guide your teens to adulthood do not ignore or overemphasize their shortcomings.

Guide Your Teens into Good Surroundings

Another tip for guiding teens successfully to adulthood is to guide them into good and supportive surroundings. This means to help your teens select safe places to meet friends. The Bible says bad company corrupts good character. Teens are not always quick to share their problems with their parents, so it is wise to set up other outlets for your teens to share their hearts and get constructive feedback. In our case, we went to church regularly and our kids got involved in the youth group. In that group they drew close to other teens and other adults who shared our values and who cared about them and gave them a safe place to be themselves.

Pray Every Day That God Will Overcome Your Mistakes

No parents are perfect. We all fall short in just about every way and from time to time we make mistakes. I do not try to think that my kids are good kids entirely because of how we raised them. Long ago, I relinquished control of my kids to God and prayed often that God would be their guide and would overcome my shortcomings and mistakes as a parent. God knows that I am human and that I do not have all the right answers all the time and that often I misunderstand and say the wrong things. Yet, I know that God is bigger than my mistakes and that he has the power to guide them to live the kind of lives he created them to live. Prayer is an important tool in successfully guiding your teens to adulthood.

In my opinion, Introduce Your Teens to God at an Early Age

The seventh and most important tip is to introduce your teen(s) to God at an early age. God is the creator of all things and (as the t-shirt says) doesn't make junk. Your children are masterpieces of God's hand made to be the special people they are. God the Father in Heaven loves them and wants the very best for their lives. He is righteous and just and loving and has dictated healthy boundaries that will steer your children away from unproductive pursuits towards productive thoughts and behaviors out of faith, hope, and charity.


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    • ecoggins profile image

      ecoggins 7 years ago from Corona, California

      jamm43, I know what you mean. Our 18 year old son rarely talks to any of us either. And I know, it can be very frustrating at times. But, if you planted the right seeds and keep gently watering them, I believe your son will come around. And, I believe he will find his niche in his own time which will motivate him.

      We were fortunate that our son had some adult role models who he could talk to outside the home. For instance, in his freshman year our son enrolled in an architectural drafting class which he seemed to excel in. The teacher of the class took notice of his interest level and kind of took TJ our son under his wing throughout high school. We also had two youth pastors at church who took special interest in our teens as well.

      Finally, for us (and this obviously not a usual circumstance) our children had an opportunity to spend 5-1/2 years in an underdeveloped, poor country where there were plenty of examples of how a life can be ruined if one makes poor choices.

      Sunday, we dropped TJ off at his new college. The night before he went shopping with mom to buy the amenities he needed for his dorm room. Of course, my wife took the opportunity to share some last minute words of wisdom about making wise choices. At that, TJ mentioned what I stated in the above paragraph. He attempted to reassure mom by observing that many of the other freshmen have never been out of the country to see what he saw (including a own woman inflicted by the ravages of AIDS and a whole country trying to recover from senseless civil war)and these images in his mind serve as a constant reminder to him about making wise choices (what can happen to a life when one does not make wise choices).

      Now I say these things from personal opinion and not as an expert in any way. I hope I made that clear in the article. And, I hope I made clear I don't think my children have come out the way they have thus far because my wife and I are special parents. That would be far from the truth. Clearly it is a fact that in many cases good parents do not always wind up with good kids and, vice versa, there are plenty of kids who display good character despite having rotten parents.

      So, I say keep praying and keep gently watering the seeds you have sown in his heart and I believe your son will come around. After that trust in God, he said he will never leave or forsake those who love him and his word will never come back to him void.

      However do not nag him or attempt to break into his shell that will only drive him away.

      About ten years ago, I read a book about the differences between men and women called "men are waffles and women are spaghetti." Without going over the whole analogy, the authors demonstrated that men need to be confident that they will succeed at an activity or they will not want to do that activity. (Waffles have a bunch of squares and men only like to play in the squares in which they think they will be successful). I have found these tendencies in my own life and in my teenage son's life as well. So, if I nag my son to communicate with me, he will not want to because my nagging says to him that he is a lousy communicator and he needs to learn to do it better. Even though I love my son and I want the best for him and believe that learning to communicate with other loved ones is important, my forceful behavior has the opposite effect than my intention - and he withdraws. Not because he does not want to communicate but because my behavior says he's lousy at it. And as a young man ( with testosterone raging through his body, he does not want to venture to do something he's lousy at.

      The important thing is to be consistently open to him and hopefully (not definitely) he will open up in his time or find a good friend who he can share his life with.

      For what it's worth, e.

    • jamm43 profile image

      jamm43 7 years ago

      Sorry...I'm a little late to the party. What would you suggest be done when we've exhausted all other options. We've done everything you've listed as your 7 tips. We've implemented these acts from day 1.

      My oldest is almost 17. He's very gifted in many ways and we have always encouraged him and his brothers. He loves sports and is a talented singer. What he lacks is the motivation and willingness to better himself. He comes home from school and doesn't do ANYTHING. We've tried having open dialog with him. But, he won't talk to us. It's very frustrating for us. I only want him to have a better life than I had.

    • ecoggins profile image

      ecoggins 7 years ago from Corona, California

      Thank you all for your kind comments. I cannot tell you how much I enjoy them. God bless you all.

    • heart4theword profile image

      heart4theword 7 years ago from hub

      You should be proud, what a great achievement in today's society! Bringing up a child, with good character and standards:) Love the layout of this writing, it is simple and to the point:) Great Hub!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

      Ecoggins, Congratulations of your son's graduation. I think you and your wife must be wonderful parents. All children should be so blessed,

    • RevLady profile image

      RevLady 7 years ago from Lantana, Florida

      Great hub with great advice from an apparently great DAD. Congratulations on your son's achievement and blessings to you and yours!

      Forever His,

    • billyaustindillon profile image

      billyaustindillon 7 years ago

      Some excellent advice - being there is the main thing - congrats on your son and the obvious joy you have got from parenting.

    • ecoggins profile image

      ecoggins 7 years ago from Corona, California

      elayne001, Thank you for your encouraging comments. I appreciate your feedback very much. It is important to allow your children to be themselves and not try to fit them into a particular mold. It is also important to show them that good character leads to more positive opportunities in life.

    • elayne001 profile image

      Elayne 7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

      Congrats on your son's graduation. Sounds like you were very supportive and gave him all he needed to succeed. Sometimes, no matter what we do, a child that is raised just like the rest will not be able to do as well. We must also treat them as individuals, which I am sure you did. Thanks for sharing the great tips. I have four grown children and they all did well, but have totally different personalities, likes and dislikes. Having a supportive Dad is a rare thing these days, so kudos to you.