5 Things We Need to Make Sure We Teach Our Teens

teen We've talked about what our teens should pay for, and what our teens should be able to know how to do once it's time for them to leave the house, but now, in light of the Steubenville rape trial, maybe it's time to talk about what we, as parents, are still responsible for when it comes to educating our children.

No matter how obvious some of these may seem, here are 5 ideas and values we should make a point to teach our teens.

  1. How to have an argument. Many parents believe that they shouldn't argue in front of their kids, and while that's probably true for most cases, I think it's important to teach your teen, by example, how to have a disagreement. If you and your spouse disagree about, say, how to handle the neighbor's tree that fell in your yard, don't be shy about having that heated discussion in front of your teen. Show them how to listen, get your point across, use respectful tones, and reach a solution. Hopefully, they'll follow your lead the next time they disagree with someone.
  2. How it's OK to say 'no.' Teens are pulled in a thousand directions these days -- from commitments with friends to family obligations to school work to sports teams -- and with their busy schedules, it's important they know when to say yes and when to say no. A lot of high schoolers, girls especially, I've noticed, are afraid they'll let someone down if they say they can't attend the play, or help a friend with the math homework, or set up for the dance -- but parents should help them realize that you can't be everything to everyone, and saying 'no' is better than breaking a promise.
  3. How 'respect' doesn't just apply to adults and elders. We (as a society, as parents, as a school system) teach our children a lot about respecting parents, teachers, and elders, but it's important to drive home the fact that respect is something everyone deserves from the kindergarteners to the bus driver to the special needs kids to the prom queen.
  4. How working for a cause is better than working for applause. In this day and age where everyone gets a trophy for showing up and even minor successes are lauded on social media, it can muddy the reason that teens choose to do good deeds. If they're quick to volunteer for hurricane relief just so they can post cute pics of themselves in tight shorts, high socks, and Habitat for Humanity shirts tied off at their midriff, help them understand why their volunteering efforts matter. Ideally, the next time there comes a time for aid, they'll want to help out for the right reasons instead of the social media ones.
  5. How you can't (really) erase something from the Internet. Sure, there's a delete button on your computer, but how many people had the chance to see what you posted, then downloaded it or screen-grabbed it or Lord knows what else? It may seem funny to upload a picture of everyone drinking (or even pretending to be drinking) in Scott's basement, but the Internet, she's hard to battle. Talk to them about privacy laws and cases in the news where pictures, tweets, Facebook postings, etc., have caused kids to get in major trouble.

What's the bigget lesson you try and teach your teen?


Photo via Vancouver Public Library/Flickr

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