by Jennifer Dyer
In a recent conversation with a responsible, hardworking teen friend, I asked her what motivated her to be responsible and how her parents helped her in this area. I summarized some of her responses below.
Boundaries, not micromanaging: Homework has to be done by Thursday night (she takes university classes), but her parents do not micromanage how and when she gets her work done. They give her reasonable freedoms, but also let her deal with the consequences. Didn’t get the work done? She has to deal with the aftermath, including any embarrassment that comes from the teacher. Also, they might have to restrict her more the next week.
Balancing boundaries with trust: “Where are you going, how long will you be there, who will you be with, and when are you coming home? Your safety and well-being is a priority for us.” She reports that many of her peers wish their parents took a greater interest in their whereabouts and activities. She said she and her friends want to know their parents care about where they are and what they are doing. They want to be held accountable for their boundaries even if they sometimes don’t act like it. At the same time, she said it is embarrassing to be called constantly. That feels as though parents lack trust.
Mini steps toward freedom: Obviously I am talking about a very responsible person, but I’ve known her all her life and have seen her parents take constant mini steps back to letting her have more responsibility. Her boundaries were much tighter when she was in middle school and have loosened each year as she grew.
Money responsibility: She likes having some financial responsibility, such as with her car. She pays for her own gas and insurance. In the past, she has worked to pay for things such as a summer camp and summer mission trips. She says this makes her feel more grown up and is helping her learn how to manage money before she gets out on her own. However, just because she takes part in her car finances, it does not mean that she doesn’t share the car and driving responsibilities with her parents.
Taking an interest in her life: Aside from the boundaries part, her parents are obviously interested in her as a person. They talk to her. Mom sits down with her for tea, and dad takes her out on dates. They respect her opinions and, as she is their eldest, even ask for her input in some of the big family decisions. She is a member of the family and is expected to be a part of their lives.
More from my interviews with a teen series tomorrow…