…a fool is reckless and careless. -Proverbs 14:16
Parents of teens and those who work with high school students know the Spring of year is a fun and exciting time of year for students, especially the closer they get to being seniors. Unfortunately, it can also be a dangerous time. I don’t have statistics to back it up, but it just seems like this time of year, as we get closer to school ending, students are just more likely to be careless with their actions and make choices that can be detrimental to their emotional, physical and spiritual health. If you’ve noticed this pattern yourself and would like to talk to your teen about navigating this season with care and wisdom, I’d like to share a couple of things from my limited experience that might be helpful:
1. Talk to him/her like they are an adult, and share your concerns in a loving, straightforward way. Be diligent not to come across like you think they are so stupid that you have to take the time to talk to them about their dumb choices. Don’t be a grouch. Don’t talk down to them. Maybe start with something like, “hey I love you very much and I want you to have a good time, but more than that I want you to be safe and keep your head on straight. I wouldn’t be talking to you about it if I didn’t think you were capable of hearing it.”
2. Don’t try to be cool. Sometimes during this season parents/leaders realize that time with their young person at home is short and then tend to get lax on wise parameters. Don’t do that. If you have set high standards for your kids, keep them. Resist the temptation to say things like “I know there will probably be drinking, I hope you will stay put when you drink and know when you’ve had too much” 🙄 — There are good reasons lawmakers who don’t even know your kids or care nearly as much about them have put laws in the place to try and prevent them from consuming alcohol until the age of 21. Encourage them to obey the law, encourage them to drive the speed limit, tell them to have fun while being responsible. If they choose to break laws or act foolishly don’t let it be because you encouraged them to by trying to score points as a cool mom, dad, or leader. And newsflash? You aren’t cool 😆 For the most part, your time has passed on all that ha ha. I’m right there with you. 👴🏻
3. Don’t be unnecessarily overbearing. I hope this doesn’t sound like a contradiction to my last statement, but this is not the time to put the screws on them either. They are getting older and wanting more freedom is a natural thing! If you get a sense that they are on a trajectory towards responsibility and doing the right things then give them some room to breathe, stay out later, go more places, etc. Say yes when you can! Middle schoolers dislike the feeling of a helicopter parent. Highschoolers? Tend to hate it. 😅
4. Remind them of their priorities. This is so important! If your student is a self proclaiming follower of Jesus Christ, remind them that everything that they do is to be done for the glory of God. And if they can’t glorify God in doing it, don’t do it. If they want to get into a good college and have a career in mind, remind them that their actions today can prevent them from achieving big goals tomorrow. We underestimate teenagers when we think that they can’t hear those kinds of things. They are more forward thinking then we give them credit for. Sometimes they just need a reminder, like all of us do.
I assure you I haven’t been perfect on all of this. Some of this advice comes from “woulda coulda shouldas” that I have looking back. I hope you find them helpful. Also, chances are if you’re still reading this, you love teens and want what’s best for them. For that I want to thank you, commend you, and ask that you join in me in praying for them. They’ve got it tougher than we realize and need all the prayer and encouragement they can get.