I’ve been told that “everything must change, nothing stays the same.” How often have you heard that statement? Would you agree or disagree with it?
Things have changed drastically since I was a teenager. I barely got to date before heading off to University. My parents were not only old-fashioned but they were strict. I am not a parent but I have often wondered how I would raise a teenager in today’s society. What could I tell them to protect them from the harsh realities they’ll face? Could I make sure they trusted me to talk freely about anything as I did with my parents? Would I try to do as my parents did with us or would I lose them because what worked then wouldn’t work now?
IF I WERE THE PARENT OF A TEEN:
- I would teach and encourage sexual abstinence.
- I would show graphic images of the damage caused by smoking, alcoholism, sexually transmitted diseases and the use of drugs.
- I would keep my child involved in activities (personal interests, school, church and community) and the family would be supportive.
- I would require volunteering over working part-time.
- I would offer incentives for reading and writing assignments beyond what is required.
- I would teach economics, discuss global trade and politics, in depth.
- I would promote fluency in Spanish, German, Japanese and/or French and allow their participation in a Foreign Exchange program.
- I would offer my friendship without relinquishing my role as parent.
- I would spend more time with my child and less money on the latest trends in electronics or fashions.
- I would monitor my child’s Internet access and restrict access to all chat rooms and sites for adults.
I could not present a comprehensive list and would not attempt it. Also, I’m aware it’s quite easy for me to say all of the above from my present position. I’ll likely never find out what I would do but I feel strongly I would put forth every effort to make them happen. What is not included in this list is a given. My teenager would constantly hear my expressed love for him/her.
I can scarcely believe what I see these days concerning how some teens are being raised. They seem to be parenting their parents and bossing them around. It grieves me to witness this seemingly role-reversal. My hat’s off to those parents who take parenting seriously and are doing the very best they can. I know it is not easy.
If I were a parent, my kid would probably be embarrassed by my old-fashioned values. It wouldn’t bother me, however. From what I see and remember about being a teenager, it’s great when a parent can get the upper hand occasionally. Teens are difficult and payback can be sweet!
© 2006 Avis Ward