“Parenting teenagers” my brother once said, “Is God’s way of helping parents prepare for the empty nest…. because you start to long for the nest to be empty!” I’m not sure this is entirely true, but I do know those parenting teenagers require patience, firmness, and grace all mixed together.
Although adolescence is a relatively brief period of time, it often gives rise to emotional extremes that include excitement, anxiety, hope, elation, frustration, and despair (and that’s just for the parent!).
Every teen, in the span of a few short years, is required to make the leap from childhood to young adulthood. Where else in one’s life is so much expected in such a short time? With great challenges come great stressors, and the potential for even greater mistakes.
Everyone knows of a teen (usually of several teens) who, when faced with this pressure, made unwise decisions that led to crushing heartbreak. There are, however, ways to minimize the chance that one will suffer these sorts of setbacks. If a teen will follow the five rules set out below, really take them to heart and apply them consistently, adolescence will be a time of healthy growth, strength, and yes, even wonder.
5 Crucial Pieces Of Advice For Thriving In Teen Years
1. Find Trusted Mentors.
The few short years it takes to travel between the eastern shores of childhood and the western shores of young adulthood are a time of both great excitement and confusion. It is not unlike trying to take a boat across the Colorado River, going from one side to the other. Exhilarating and frightening. The main thing is to cross safely, to get to the other side. If you do so without too many bumps and bruises, you’ll come away stronger.
But how to do so? Just as one would when navigating the Colorado River rapids, so too one must when navigating adolescence: rely on those who have previously made the crossing. Who would these be? Adults. Best of all trusted adults. Parents, teachers, youth ministers, the parents of friends, etc.
No matter their age these adults remember well the trials of this crossing. The ones you want to trust are those that are sympathetic to the challenges you face, confident in your ability to succeed, and excited for the journey upon which you have embarked. It may not be ‘cool’ to lean in on adults, these experienced river guides, but it is wise.
2. Resist Peer Pressure.
The temptation to follow the crowd will be particularly great during adolescence. Resist with all your might. Most of the pressure, nearly all of it, is applied by young people who are feeling even more insecure than you. By giving in you momentarily win the approval of your peers (or at least avoid their disapproval), but you lose a little bit of yourself.
How so? If by following peer pressure you turn your back on what you hold to be right and true, then you’ve turned your back on an essential part of who you are… your ideals. So, hang on more tightly to your ideals than to acceptance by peers.
3. Be A Person Of High Principle.
If you’re scratching your head trying to figure out the advice given in number two above, the following should help. Your happiness in life will largely depend on what you hold to be fundamentally true:
- Is there a God and if so what is he like?
- What are the highest expressions of love?
- Are honesty, courage, compassion, loyalty and other virtues required of me, or simply qualities that might be good to cultivate?