Talking to your teenagers about their future

Things you need to know

Teenagers always want to find out about themselves, but are less willing to believe that they can choose and shape the person they are becoming. Remember – big dreams and huge goals can paralyse teens instead of motivating them. If your teen is ‘stuck’, start with a mid or short-term goal first.

Things you need to hear

  • What do they think are their strengths?
  • What things do they find challenging?
  • Who would they most like to be like?
  • If they could change something about themselves, what would it be?
  • Something they may not actually put into words, but you may be able to hear between their words – do they like themselves?

Things you need to get across

  • You believe in them and their potential
  • Life is chapters, some are great, but everyone has bad patches in their life
  • They have immense control over their future
  • When dreams turn into plans and goals, they can become true

Feelings aren’t always true – just because they feel lonely, unloved, ugly etc. doesn’t make it so. Sometimes our feelings lie to us!

How to open the conversation

Teenagers love to do personality tests like the online one at attitude.org.nz. This can be a good conversation starter. Challenge your teenager to think about what they want to do and how they want to live. And most importantly, ask them, “Is this who you want to be?

A final thought

Your own parents probably didn’t understand your adolescent world, and it is preposterous to think that we will be able to fully understand the world our teenage children live in. But, for a little while longer, there are still a few things about their world that you understand better than they do.

Conversation – genuine dialogue – is your best chance of keeping them in sight as they sail off into their life, and to help them steer a safe and happy course.

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