When I was 13, I looked my grandfather square in the face and told him, “Granddad, look at my face. It will be two years before you see it again. This place is boring.” He looked at me and chuckled, “Two years, huh?” I knew he didn’t believe me. But I was serious! My grandparents owned a farm in Alabama and I was a city kid from Miami. The “one-TV-in-a-house” lifestyle just wasn’t doing it for me. I needed to space out my visits. There was nothing to do there but listen to the adults talk.
It wasn’t two years when summer came around again, my mom herded me along just like before. I resented it then, but now I am forever grateful. I have an iPhone, nice TV and plenty of electronic gadgets, but I would give them all up to hear my grandparents’ wisdom again.
This week, I traveled to Florida for a meeting regarding a leadership program for teenage girls. While I work mostly with adults, this project means a lot to me. I believe that reaching this particular age group at the right time is critical. The realities of today’s teenager is a far cry from the world I faced. But one thing hasn’t changed—whether they know it or not, they still need our wisdom.
Whether you are a parent or just an adult in a teenager’s life, here are some things you can do to help ensure they have access to wisdom:
Encourage Safety-Zones: I think most parents envision a world where their child runs to them with all their concerns. But even if you and your child enjoy such a relationship, they won’t come to you all the time. In those cases, it’s important to encourage them to communicate to other adults that you trust. In order for this to be successful, it is crucial that you and the other adult respect the privacy and confidence of that relationship. Crossing that boundary will only breed distrust. Get ego out of the way—it is better that they get answers from a trusted adult than the Internet or an equally uninformed peer.
Don’t Be a Friend, Be An Adult: Hanging out with the cool kids is a goal for the other kids. Becoming a safety zone requires that we understand our role. If you need to be liked, you can’t be a safety zone. Purpose to be a relevant voice and perspective—even when it’s unpopular.
Say What You Need To Say: The worst thing we can do is to allow a child’s unwillingness to listen to deter us from sharing our wisdom and insights with them. Even when they don’t want to hear us—they do. I was in my early 20’s before I finally recognized how blessed I was to have adults who cared. They didn’t leave me to my own ends.
Every child is different and we must employ creativity in our interactions, but one thing they all have in common is a need for boundaries. If they get around them, that’s one thing—but to not have them at all is irresponsible on our part.
Do Your Work: If you’re a parent, make a special effort to connect with your child. If you enjoy a close relationship, find out who they currently see as their safety zones. If you don’t have children, make efforts to connect with a special child in your life.
Define Your Wealth: Affirm, “I will give freely of myself and the wisdom God has given me.”
Recently named the “North America’s Next Greatest Speaker” by eWomenNetwork, Felicia T. Scott is a Certified Empowerment Coach™ who empowers her clients to turn their Worth into Wealth as she partners with them to DISCOVER their WORTH, DO the WORK and DEFINE their WEALTH. Get more insight, download the FREE “8 Choices Winners Must Make” seminar MP3 on her website.