How You Can Use This Opportunity to Pass On Family Identity and Values
I love working with teenagers! Why? Because they are at such a unique and exciting time of life asking and discovering their identity. Teenagers are asking, “Who am I?” Today we’re going to talk about how you can use this opportunity to pass on your family identity and values. The teen years aren’t always the easiest to manage for parents and grandparents, but they are the years we can be of great help in the development of the young adults in our lives.
The other thing I love about interacting with teens in these years is their energy and enthusiasm. They are actively looking for the causes, passions, and career interests that will drive the rest of their lives. What better time for us to engage with them and offer help and wisdom? The key to success is communicating “with” teens, not “at” them. You know what I mean, right? It’s so easy to fall into the trap of telling people how to live their lives. True communication occurs when it starts with listening.
How can we listen better to help teens discover who they are? Ask questions and wait. Allow the teen the time and liberty to give honest answers. Listening truly is that simple. Be persistent, creative, and patient in what and how we ask, it’s worth it to get the flow of communication started. Once we’ve heard what a teen is willing to share, then it’s time to relate it to the family and values we hold dear. Gently, compassionately, and kindly.
Listening is The Key
I’ve found most teens, of course not all, but most are willing to interact when they feel:
- like the adult’s interest is genuine,
- that the teens’ concerns are being heard, and,
- there’s no empty platitudes or baloney being flung their way.
This is critical!
Think about it this way. If you were insecure, unsure about how to begin interacting in the adult world, or unsure of your own goals and identity, would you open up freely? Teens need to feel like they can trust you with their insecurities before they will open up and listen to what you have to say.
If you, as a grandparent, want the teens you love to talk with you and listen to the wisdom you might share, then love them, listen to them, get excited with them, dream with them, explore options with them, and help them believe in their potential to discover who they truly are and what the future can be for them!
If you’re careful in your communications, you’ll be able to share your own struggles and triumphs. You’ll be asked questions. You’ll be respected as a confidante who is genuinely interested in helping the teen you love find their way. Most importantly, you’ll be able to pass down lessons about what it means to be a member of your family and the values that you hope they will carry with them into adulthood.
While you’re passing on values check out last week’s post on Passing on the Value of Work Ethic Even After You Retire!