This article was originally featured in the August 2017 issue of Parenting Teens magazine. For more articles and subscription information, please visit www.lifeway.com/parentingteens, and enjoy!
As the buzz of a new school year descends upon your household, it’s easy for your teen to quickly become overwhelmed with new schedules, new homework, and new extracurriculars.
But what if instead of just getting by, this year was one of purpose and intentionality? What if this year was one where she shatters goals and makes a difference? New results require new actions—and there’s no better time than when the school year kicks off.
You can help your teen in these three areas: faith, family, and the future. Here’s how.
YOUNG TEENS (13-15)
Intentional is the word this year. Fix this word into your younger teen’s vocabulary and model it in your own life. Encourage them to think before they act or speak.
- Faith: Encourage your teen to first and foremost be intentional about their walk with Christ. Ask questions about what they are studying in God’s Word and learning at church. Help them set a goal that will grow their faith, like memorizing Scripture.
- Family: Make family time a priority. Institute a weekly family night. Regardless of where you go or what you eat, when you make it a point to sit down together as a family, you will keep communication flowing and build your sense of unity.
- Future: Define a win. Help your student consider their strengths and gifts. When they think about their future, what is the first thing they think of? At this early stage of adolescence, it can be useful to make a list to visually see what they feel drawn to. Set one achievable step they can take toward the path they feel most drawn to.
MIDDLE TEENS (16-17)
With more and more things filling your teen’s day, it gets harder to be intentional with their time. Get ahead of it by carving out time to help them consider how purposefully they live each day.
- Faith: Step out. If your teen has a firm foundation, now is the time to encourage them to put feet to their faith. Teach them to rely on God by sacrificing their comfort for His purposes. Dream up ideas together and then put some practical steps in place to go to work.
- Family: Set a family goal that will show your teen the strength and dependability of family. Pursue something that involves everyone and will take the better part of the school year. Seeing you fight for this goal will show them the strength, love, and devotion you will always have for them.
- Future: Decide some things now. Help your teen come up with a list of guardrails and boundaries they will live by—including uncomfortable ones. Express your desires, but really let your student own his or her decisions. Preparing for difficult things now can turn huge waves into tiny blips on the road ahead.
OLDER TEENS (18-19)
Don’t allow your older adolescent to grow lazy. As they transition out of your home (and your watchful eye) to experience more freedom, leave them with clear expectations about how you want to see them grow in the Lord.
- Faith: Stay grounded. Teach your teen that no matter what happens in their life, they must remain grounded by their Christian values. Explain the importance of having an unshakable faith that is not swayed by the world, but remains guided by the values of God’s Word.
- Family: Make Christ a priority when your family is together. Set aside time to study God’s Word and pray together and for each other. Model what it means to be a spiritual leader and show that pursuing Christ together is what makes your family strong.
Future: Work hard and with excellence. While their peers may be on autopilot to finish high school (or perhaps are sleeping away their freshman year of college), continue to expect hard work and dedication in whatever your student is pursuing. Challenge them to develop a strong worth ethic and always finish what they start.
Lacey Arocha lives in the Chattanooga, Tenn., area where she considers her job as mom to three a wild adventure! She has a master’s degree in pastoral counseling and serves alongside her husband at Dallas Bay Church. She loves helping teenagers make their faith their own—and drinking Cherry Coke.