10 Things Every Parent Should Know About Their Teenager…
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Whenever your first child is born, it is such a joyful and fantastic experience. But, it is also a frightening experience because you have suddenly been charged with raising another life and hopefully not messing them up. It would be wonderful if they gave you an instruction manual before you left the hospital, but every kid is different. We have to know our kids to be able to guide them through this world that we live in. We realize that most of you, in addition to being a parent, have many other responsibilities and duties. As youth pastors, we are heavily involved in the youth culture of today, and spend countless hours researching current trends within the youth. That is one of the reasons that we love doing parent workshops… to inform you of these trends so that you can be aware of what is going on in your teenager’s world. Although there are numerous things that you should know about your teenager, we have come up with 10 things that every parent should know about their teenager.
1. You Teenager Needs your Appreciation and approval:
· If they do not find approval from you they will try to find it elsewhere.
· A girl who is becoming a woman needs to be constantly affirmed by her parents, grandparents and close friends that she is indeed valuable, precious and beautiful. Don’t leave any compliment left unsaid. Equip her with self respect and she will be far less likely to be victimized by a predator and more likely to save herself for a future husband.
· 11% of young people in America suffer from either anorexia or bulimia, and 90 to 95% of those with eating disorders are female adolescents. Two out of three teenage girls surveyed were trying to lose weight.
· This means… your teenage daughter needs to know that she is beautiful. She needs to be told that so often that she is almost sick of hearing it. We have been calling Xoe gorgeous and pretty since the day she was born. But, just the other day Xoe came into the bathroom while I was getting ready and she went like this and said “gorgeous.” That is a great thing for her to be learning. That she is gorgeous.
· Boys who are becoming men need to be affirmed as well. They need to be reminded that they are growing in strength and it is their responsibility to care for, honor and protect women just as they will someday care for their wife. They should be taught things like Don’t hit girls, ladies first… opening doors for women. Giving up their seat for pregnant ladies or older gentlemen.
· Though studies indicate that teenage girls think about suicide more than teenage boys, the fact is that more teenage boys commit suicide than girls. In fact, 73% of all suicides are white teenage males. Teen suicide was the 3rd leading cause of death among young adults and adolescents 15 to 24 years of age, following unintentional injuries and homicide.
· Your teenage boy needs to know that they can make it through anything. They need to have the freedom to show their emotions, the freedom to cry, and especially the freedom to talk to you about what they are going through. You may not feel like you can make a difference in his life… but just knowing that you are there for him no matter what will make a HUGE impact on his life.
2. Your Teenager Wants Rules and Regulations
b. Clear Guidelines
c. Your Teenager wants you to discipline them
d. They may not like you for it now but they will love you for it later
e. One of the reasons they need this is because #3
3. Your Teenager Faces New Threats
a. TV –
i. OK… Here is a piece of Trivia for you. What would you say is the most popular show for kids age 9-12? Anyone?
ii. ABC’s Desperate Housewives is the most popular broadcast-network television show with kids aged 9-12 according to Nielsen stats.
iii. A study of 1792 adolescents ages 12-17 showed that watching sex on TV influences teens to have sex. Basically, kids with higher exposure to sex on TV were almost twice as likely than kids with lower exposure to initiate sexual intercourse.
iv. By age 18, a U.S. youth will have seen 16,000 simulated murders and 200,000 acts of violence. – American Psychiatric Association
v. The average youth living in the U.S. watches television 25 hours a week and plays computer games an additional seven hours. – National Institute on Media and the Family, 1998 study
vi. That is why it is so important for you to monitor what your teenager is watching on television
vii. One way that you can protect your kids is to use parental tools such as the Clear Play DVD Player – can be found online or at Family Christian Stores. Sells for $79.99 at Family Christian Stores, plus an optional $7.95 per month membership to download new movies filters. The Player currently filters around 2700 movies with 12 levels of filtering including violence, language, sex, nudity and drug abuse. Each of these has varying levels so that you can filter as much or little of each as you want.
viii. Newer TVs come pre-installed with a parental filter called V-chip. Most Cable Companies have parental controls as well. These allow you to block certain shows and programs that you don’t want your children to watch. It is very easy to use, you simply set up a passcode and choose those programs to block. If you are unsure of how to block the programs with your cable provider, you can call customer service and they will walk you through the process. It may take some time to block the inappropriate shows… but it is worth it!
i. Internet is one of the most useful inventions of our time, but also one of the most dangerous.
ii. According to Safe Families, 9 out of 10 children between the ages of 8 and 16 have viewed ography on the internet. 9 out of 10. In many of these cases, it was viewed unintentionally.
iii. The average age of first exposure to internet ography was age 11
iv. As of 2007, the largest consumer of internet ography were youth ages 12 to 17
v. This affects teenagers into adulthood. Over 70% of men ages 18 to 24 admitted to visiting ographic websites in a typical month.
vi. Server side Internet Filters such as Clean Surf. Clean Surf will filter from the server side (meaning the content will never reach your computer.) It prices at only $4.95 per month or $49.95 per year for up to 5 computers at no additional cost.
vii. Safe Eyes and bSecure are great software based Internet Filters that allow you parental controls such as website filtering, chat log monitoring, and allows you to set internet time constraints such as no internet usage after a certain hour, and will notify you via email, text message or phone if someone does visit an inappropriate website. Safe Eyes is even available for your iPhone.
· Drugs and Alcohol
o Teen Help reports some striking statistics about teen drug and alcohol use.
o Every day, on average, 11,318 American youth ages 12 to 20 try alcohol for the first time, 6,488 try marijuana, 2,786 try cocaine and 386 try heroin for the first time. According to a national survey, an overwhelming 31.5% of high school students reported hazardous drinking of 5 or more drinks in one sitting during the 30 days immediately preceding the survey. Teen Help reports that 63% of the teenagers that drink alcohol say that they initially got the drinks from their home or their friend’s home.
o I encourage people not to drink, but if you do drink make sure not to keep a stash around your house where your teenagers can get their hands on it.
o Teens who drink are 50% more likely to use cocaine than those teenagers who don’t
o Teenagers whose parents talk to them about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse regularly are 42% less likely to use drugs than those whose parents don’t
4. Your Teenager Believes they have a right to privacy. They do not
a. If your teen has a lock on their door, break it and search their room
b. We encourage you to not allow your teenagers to have a TV or computer in their bedrooms.
c. If your teenager wants to watch a different TV show than you do, that is ok… but make sure that it is on in a common area of the home. Set up a computer area within parental eyesight for your children to surf the internet.
d. Know your teenager’s passwords! I am talking about email passwords, Facebook, Myspace and Twitter passwords. You should know what they are doing on the internet… that is the only way that you will protect them from the dangers online.
e. In addition I recommend installing a key logger so you can see what is really going on.
f. Know Who, What, When, Where, Why and How… Every time your teenager leaves the house. Check up on them every now and then. If they say that they are staying over at Suzie’s house… call Suzie’s mom to confirm. Also, make sure that you know your teenager’s friend’s parents. Don’t assume that just because someone’s parents are friendly that they have the same values as you.
5. Your Teenager Needs Responsibility
a. Chores – cleaning room, making bed, helping with laundry, helping with dinner. When I got married, I had no idea how to do laundry. The only meals I could make were grilled cheese sandwiches and lasagna. Giving your children these chores will prepare them with life skills that will help them greatly later on in life.
b. Getting good grades – I know that not every child will make A’s on every report card in every subject. But, you need to know that your child is doing their best in school by encouraging them, even if their best is a B or C.
c. Money – Teach them to tithe 10%, save 10%, invest 10% and then they can the rest.
i. Open them a savings account as soon as you can
1. $100 per month invested in as low as 2% can yield $73,566 over 40 years, with an investment of only $48,000
2. $100 per month invested in more moderate account of 6% can yield $200,145 over 40 years with an investment of only $48,000
ii. Open them a retirement account early
1. Investing $3,000 per year starting at age 15 and only investing that same $3,000 per year until age 19 with a 10% annual return will yield $1,615,363.40 by age 65 — with a total investment of only $15,000
2. Investing $3000 per year starting at age 19 and only investing that same $3,000 per year until age 26 with a 10% annual return will yield $1,552,739.35 by age 65 — with a total investment of only $24,000
3. You could start at age 27 investing $3,000 per year every year until age 65 with a 10% return and only yield $1,324,777.67 by age 65 – with a total investment of $117,000 (still not a bad investment on the return… but obviously not as good of an investment as only $15,000)
iii. Teach them to use credit wisely. Sallie Mae reports that 84% of college students have credit cards, and carry an average balance of $2,200. Over half of undergraduate students have 4 or more credit cards by the time they graduate. Only 2% of college age students have no credit by the time they graduate. The average household credit card debt (regardless of whether they still have the credit card or not) was $8,329 in 2008.
6. Teenager will usually inherit your attitude
a. You are the hands and feet of Jesus to your teenager
b. Adolescent’s view of God is almost entirely formed by how they perceive you.
c. Especially about the things of God and church
7. Your Teenager will Mirror Your Relationships
a. If you are a single parent and you are bringing home different people all the time
b. You know, I had a friend when I was growing up and by the time she was in high school, her mother had been married 5 times. I remember staying at her house and her mother locking the bedroom door with some random guy. She hated that lifestyle, and used to swear that she would only be married once… but she was living with a guy right out of high school, married and divorced by the time she was 26 years old. She is patterning herself after her mother.
8. Your Teenager needs to form Godly relationships
· Teenagers need to form relationships with other teens. Relationships with their parents are not enough
· Sometimes people isolate their kids from the outside world
· We need to protect our kids not isolate them
9. Your Teenager Is Being Pulled in Many Different Directions. Make sure you pull them towards God.
a. Sports, band, clubs
b. Need help prioritizing
c. Make sure they are not too busy for God
10. Your Teenager Has Big Dreams
a. You may envision your teenager as simply that… a teenager. But, they see themselves as little adults. You can begin cultivating their dreams even at a young age. Rather than being a dream squasher for your teenager, it is good practice to help your teenager take practical steps towards their dreams.
b. For example, let’s say that your teenager wants to be a Radiologist. A practical thing to talk to them about is their grades. Teach them to take one step of action towards their dreams every day. Learn one new thing each day about their dream
c. Take their dreams seriously. You may look at your little C+ student and think that they will never make it as a Neurosurgeon, but if you tell them that… then they never will. You have more power and control over your teenager’s dreams than anyone else in their life. Instead of laughing at their Neurosurgery dreams, help them find several colleges that offer the degree and compare their entrance requirements. Let them know that the actions that they take now, will lay the foundation for the rest of their life.