Raising “Good” Teenagers

We just wanted to see Santa!

The sign said clearly that he would arrive at 11 am. So we were there at 10:45 sharp! Our kids were excited, there was a chill in the air, and everyone was ready to see the big man in the red suit! However, when we walked in, you would have thought we had stepped into a funeral home decorated with twinkling lights, wreaths, and garland.

Teenagers texting on mobile phones in a home setting

Photo courtesy of istockphoto.com

There was no Christmas music playing. Half of the decorations were lit. Refreshments looked to be from the day before. And, you guessed it- there was no Santa! To make matters worse- the 2 teenage girls working as “Santa’s helpers,” to take pictures and keep children happy, looked bored, unenthusiastic, and frankly annoyed that we were there.

When my sister-in-law asked if there were bathrooms the kid’s could use, one of the girls stared at her for a few seconds and then answered abruptly, “Our restrooms are for employees only!”

On the drive home, my wife made the comment, “I hope our kids do not act like that when they’re teenagers. I hope we raise our kids to do good.” And then she reminded me of an experience we had as a family earlier in the year when we bought a new dog. We had gone to a pet store, who was sponsoring a local animal rescue, to look through their selection.

As we picked up different puppies, and discussed which kind of dog we would like, a pre-teen boy, wearing the rescue’s brand on his shirt, appeared and offered to help us. He led us to an open “play area” where we could play with the puppies and get to know them better. When we had questions, he hurried to find the answer. He was knowledgable on each dog we looked at, and he was kind to our children. Besides this, he never left our side. Our experience with him, alone, made us want to buy a dog.

“I hope our kids are as good, respectful & hard-working as he was!” My wife echoed on the drive.

Now, don’t misunderstand me here- I’m not against teenagers. I love them. I have spent over 15 years working with them and, through thick and thin, have loved my job. And I’m not dogging the teenage mindset- the love for their friends, the obsession with their cell phone, or their ability to sleep until 2 or 3 in the afternoon. Not bad stuff (for the most part!). It’s all part of their DNA.

I just hope when my kids become full-fledged teenagers, that they model example 2 and not example 1 in this post.

Our hope and prayer is that they….

  • Work hard. 
  • Show respect to all people. 
  • Look adults in the eye.
  • Are honest.
  • Live their life with integrity and strong character.
  • Do what they say they are going to do, when they say they’ll do it.
  • Love everyone genuinely.
  • And serve with compassion.

We believe these areas produce healthy, productive members of society. But, as I write this post, I’m suddenly stricken with a thought- I can expect these things from them, but at the same time I have to expect the same from me! As their parent, I have to model hard work, respect for others, integrity, honesty & strong character. I’m their greatest example of these things. I can’t lead them where I’m not personally going myself- ouch! 

We want “good” teenagers. Not perfect teenagers, good teenagers! Ones who live with integrity, honesty, strong character and love. Ones who work hard, when they’re being watched, and when they are not!

How about you? Got any teenagers in your house? Feel the same way? What has helped, or hindered this process? Comment now….

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