Parents possess tremendous power to make a difference in their teen’s future. Research continually confirms that positive involvement from parents during the adolescent years profoundly impacts the academic learning, social development, mental health and emotional well-being of their child. The daily demands of time and life sometimes form major barriers to spending time together, but in the end, parents who battle through these obstacles receive great rewards.
Supporting an adolescent at home and school greatly impacts future academic success. Parents who show interest in their teens’ schoolwork and regularly offer assistance and encouragement can help young adults with improved understanding of educational materials, enhanced motivation to study, a greater commitment to higher education and less school-related stress. Teens with involved parents spend more time studying, pay more attention have less behavioral issues and have better attendance records than adolescents without regular parental support.
Social development and emotional well-being play important roles during the adolescent years. Hormonal changes are taking place; peer influence is at its peak, and decision making is beginning to have more significant consequences. Research confirms that teens supported by parents recognize and manage their emotions more effectively, empathize with others, demonstrate improved responsibility tend to develop more constructive, intimate relationships with adults and peers. When faced with challenging situations, these teens handle themselves more effectively than youth without sufficient parental guidance. So, with all of the evidence supporting parental involvement, how do we find practical ways to implement it?
Open communication naturally creates parental involvement. You can demonstrate care and concern by discovering and sharing meaningful topics and activities in your teen’s life from schoolwork to extracurricular events. Start discussions about friends and become acquainted with your teen’s friends and their families. Praise accomplishments and encourage your teen to face fears and take risks. Offer assistance and guidance when needed and stay open to honestly answering your teen's questions. Be aware of information your teen obtains through television, the Internet and social media and hold regular discussions regarding online safety. Establish and model morals, standards and attitudes for yourself and your family. Present clear expectations with enforceable rules and ensure their consistent implementation in your home. Enforce clear-cut consequences for breaking rules but leave room for mistakes, mercy and forgiveness. Show your love through your words and actions.
Wrongly assuming that your teen does not want nor require your guidance or that he is old enough to make his own decisions creates devastating consequences. As an informed parent, awareness of the positive influence and preventive power you hold promotes action. In a busy world filled with obligations, the demands on your time may leave you with little energy left for parenting, but sacrificing to remain involved with your child will reap enduring rewards for both of you.
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