In nearly 20 years of serving families, I can’t help but notice that, too often in today’s culture, there isn’t a whole lot expected of our teens. Too many parents are too easily pleased with lackluster performances from their teens. Low expectations within the home will contribute to a lack of character development in a teen.
If you want to provide your teen with solid character, confidence, and a sense of self worth, it is your job to expect, and require, high standards in the tasks, projects, and moral decisions your teen is challenged with.
Below are key areas you should challenge yourself in as you expect more from your teen. This will not only build your child’s character, but you will have a dependable young man or woman that will be more prepared for the real world once he leaves home.
Require High Standards in His Household Chores
There is a difference in requiring your teen to do a chore, and requiring your teen to properly do a chore, i.e., doing it with excellence and for the glory of God. Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.”
Too many parents require little, if anything, from Junior as it pertains to contributing to the home. If he can clean his room and maybe take out the garbage, a lot of parents think that’s accomplishment enough, since, after all, he’s still in school and needs to enjoy his childhood. Nonsense! That’s a great way for Junior to mourn his childhood! Kids want to be part of something. They need activities that give them a sense of belonging and accomplishment. They won’t always immediately like the tasks you require; but, as time passes they will respect both you and themselves as a result.
I know this sounds elementary, but how many teens, today, know how to properly do the following: clean a window? Weed a garden? Mend a fence? Paint trim? Clean a toilet? Mop and wax a floor? Change a flat tire? Change oil? Clean an air conditioner? Wash, iron, and fold clothes? Wash dishes? Wash and wax a car? Dust and polish furniture? Shampoo a carpet? These are just a few of the many routine maintenance responsibilities that every home requires. Each of these are also a perfect opportunity for your teen to learn how to properly maintain a high standard for living.
Assign Projects and Require Him to Finish them
I can’t tell you how many times I have seen a teen complete a project that required him to accomplish something he did not think he could accomplish. Once accomplished, there is always a sense of pride, joy, and ownership. It never fails!
Too often parents will not let their kids assist in bigger projects because Junior weasels his way out of it; or, the parent does not like to see their child struggle through the challenge of finishing a difficult project. Requiring a child to follow through on something that is challenging can be life changing. If you want your kid to take ownership and feel confident in completing projects, assign them projects such as minor construction, landscaping, house cleaning/renovating, or require them to finish school work ahead of schedule.
Time after time, we hear from the kids at Shepherd’s Hill Academy that one of the most beneficial things they experienced during their year with us is the tremendous sense of accomplishment, self-worth, and camaraderie they experienced while working on building projects. Don’t cheat your kids out of this experience. Working on a project of any kind WITH your son or daughter will be a relationship building experience for all concerned.
Require High Standards in His Work Ethic
Many teens today seem entitled. They seem to think that, when they are at work, they should almost receive a salary for simply showing up. In addition, too many parents bail their teens out of the struggle of working. The entitlement on the teen’s part, and the low expectations on the parents part, produce a terrible, apathetic, work ethic. Just go to McDonald’s, or any fast food restaurant, and look at the average work ethic in this younger generation. I think you can identify. Enough said. So, how can teens develop a better work ethic at their job? They have to be continually reminded Who they truly are working for. It goes back to what I said earlier. Drive home the fact that they are performing before and audience of One. Rewarding them, occasionally, (not every time, so that they morph into another realm of entitlement) for excellent work is a great way for them to link reward to achievement. This will prepare them for a brighter future and a greater representation of our Lord and Savior wherever circumstance finds them.
Do you expect your teen to live by high standards? If so, in what areas of life?