We have headed into the graduation season again. Over the next eight weeks, there will be baccalaureate programs and commencement speeches given by adults and students in almost every location. Once again this year I will be a part of a program for seniors, but I am specifically talking to the parents. As a minister friend and I were working on what we were going to say, I started a list of things that teenagers need to know. Here is what I am thinking.
1. Teach Them to be Godly. You would expect this from a pastor, and I firmly believe it is true. Every child needs a moral compass. They need to be encouraged to read and learn the Bible. They need to be instructed in how to live a godly life. Every person, especially young people, need to know how to love God and their neighbor.
2. Teach Them to be Responsible. All people need to become responsible for their own actions. When they are called upon to act, they are willing to step up and perform while accepting whatever consequences follow. This includes doing the right thing when they see it needs to be done. They are not the victims or passive participants in their lives; they can steer their ship and help the world at the same time.
3. Teach Them to Make Wise Decisions. I am teaching this material to our youth group this month. The fundamental question is this, “In light of my past experience, my current situation and my future hopes and dreams, what should I do right now?” This question will force us to search through the Bible for insights along with asking people who are older and wiser for advice. The right decisions will always make life more comfortable and more joyful over the long haul.
4. Teach Them How to Handle Money. Young people must learn to be responsible with their money and their debt. Many are going off to college and accumulating a huge debt for a degree that has a limited earning ability. Others are racking up credit card debt or spending all their money on their vehicle. If our young people do not handle their money well, it will affect their marriage, parenting and even their spiritual life.
5. Teach Them How to Fail. It is going to happen. All of them are going to make a mistake. They are going to embarrass themselves and fall flat on their face. What will they do after that? Do they know how to get up and start again? Do they know how to ask for and offer forgiveness? Do they understand the importance of learning from their mistakes? Teach them to make failure their friend as they learn and grow into adulthood.
Those were a few of the things that made my list. What would you add?
Recently I read about a survey that explained how parents are very concerned about their elementary school children and have very little concern for their teenagers. Our young people need guidance during these years. They do not need to “figure it out on their own.” This sets them up for failure, heartache, and pain. Teach your children and teenagers well; it will benefit them for a lifetime.