Parenting teens can be terrifying and intensely rewarding. The rewards are often delayed, and the road through the teen years can be bumpy. Although a teen might have all the tools to make good decisions, they are still impulsive and subject to peer pressure. According to Jane M. Healy, author of "Your Child's Growing Mind," the frontal cortex, which is responsible for decision-making, will still be growing when teens are in their early 20s.
Every parent wishes success for their children. However, in order for that to happen, you need to know what success looks like. U.S. psychologist Abraham Maslow (1908-1970), in "Hierarchy of Needs: A Theory of Human Motivation," uses the words "self-actualized" to define his view of ultimate success. Modern restructuring includes "transcendence," helping others to become self-actualized, as a final step. As an analogy, think of babyhood as laying the foundation, childhood building the house, and the teen years adding the finishing touches to the rooms that it will take a lifetime to furnish. In those terms, a successful teen is one who is prepared for the next life steps.
Elizabeth Crary, in "Pick up Your Socks ... and Other Skills Growing Children Need!" defines being responsible as being able to carry out chores without reminding and following safety rules without supervision. She adds that after becoming competent, older children and teens still need spot checks to make sure that they continue to follow up correctly. She suggests a system of planned activity and simple rewards such as time spent with the child to promote responsible behavior. Psychologist and best-selling author Kevin Leman, in "Have a New Teen-Ager by Friday, " suggests you inform your teen of the needs of a specific circumstance, and then ask him to come up with the rules, which will be then written down and posted.
Empathy is picking up on what others feel, but caring is going beyond that to wish to change sad, unhappy or angry emotions to something better. Caring can also include recognizing a problem such as litter that needs picked up and responding with a solution. Volunteering to participate in community programs or assisting other family members gives teens an opportunity to practice caring. Gwen Dewar, of Parenting Science, states in her "Teaching Empathy Tips," that the results are best when teens do this without external rewards for their actions.
As a parent, you are training your child to be an adult who is capable and financially self-sufficient. Each step in your child's life is a milestone toward that day, from the first day of kindergarten to high school graduation and beyond. The world needs self-actualized adults who can pick up their metaphorical socks, then transcend their own needs to train others to pick up theirs as well. It needs adults who pay their bills, look after their children and are conscientious about fulfilling all obligations. But more than that, it needs people who fulfill these obligations because they care about others.