We use a word in our student ministry- “adulting”. It means “the act of a teenager learning how to be an adult by trying to make adult decisions. Sometimes they get it right, but more often that not they do not. I read an interesting article today about this generation and their attempt at “adulting”. This article compares this generations pace of growing up compared to teens from the 70s, 80s, and 90s. I would encourage you to check the article our here (https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2017/09/19/teens-grow-up-slower-study/105758486/) The article/research study make the case that today’s teens aren’t partaking in adult behaviors as much as teens from past decades. This is a great thing because many of the adult behaviors discussed in the article (drinking, sex, drugs, etc.) have seen significant decreases for today’s teens. There are some areas for concern though. The article states that the numbers for teens that have driving licenses and those that have worked for money have fallen 15-20% over the last 20-30 years.
The fact that teens are engaging is less adult and risky behavior is a good thing, but the fact remains that many teens that head off to college are ill-prepared for the independent adult world. What can you do as a parent to help prepare your student for college/adulthood. Here are 3 things…
Talk to them about being an adult- This seems like such an easy thing to say, but is altogether harder thing to carry out with your student. I have observed that most teenagers have better and more open communication with their parents today than they did with the students that I had in student ministries 10 years ago. This is something to revel in, but also something to take advantage of. Allow your teen to talk to you about the difficult parts of their day, the struggles of dealing with other people (both adults and other students), the problems with meeting demands on both their time and talents, and all of the difficulty of being a student in today’s culture. Then you have your greatest opportunity to speak wisdom into their lives. Proverbs 1:8-9 says
Hear, my son, your father’s instruction,
and forsake not your mother’s teaching,
for they are a graceful garland for your head
and pendants for your neck.
You are an adult. You have lived as a teenager. You have done things that are both awesome and less-than-awesome with your life. Be open with your student about your triumphs and struggles. Share wisdom you have gained from doing it the right way and the wrong way. The idea of biblical discipleship that Jesus modeled for us is to walk alongside those you disciple and to model Christ-likeness at times and to teach Christ-likeness at others. Those times that you get to impart your teen with wisdom and instruction will not come back void.
Discipline Them– Now, when you read that you probably thought about spankings/grounding/taking their phones. That is only partially what I mean when I say to discipline your teen. Proverbs 29:15 says
The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.
We need to apply this verse not only to improper behavior, but also to life skills. We don’t need to just discipline our teens, but also to teach them discipline. I can’t tell you the number of times I have watched a 7th grade boy make poor financial decisions on a student ministry trip. However, by the time that student has reached 12th grade he usually is making better financial decisions. We need to sit down with our students and teach them discipline and wisdom with their time, money, etc. It is an arduous task and is not a quick one either. We need to be committed to take the time to discipline our students in the skills of being and adult.
Pray for them- Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of life we forget that there are simple things that we can do for our student- PRAY
We need to pray for our students both specifically about things they are dealing with in their lives, but also in a more general sense about growing up into and adult. Have you prayed for your student and where they will be in 10 years? 20 years? 50 years? Have you prayed for their future spouse? Have you prayed for their children (you grandchildren…I know I just made you feel old)? Here is a great list of verses to pray over our students during the day- https://club31women.com/12-powerful-verses-pray-children/ We also need to pray for God to give us wisdom/patience/kindness/love in raising and discipling a student.
God has blessed you with the responsibility to raise a teenager. It is a daunting task, but He is there every step of the way. Always remember Proverbs 22:6-
Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Yours in Christ,