Sometimes as parents it’s hard to remember we are primarily teachers. Our job is to make sure our children are safe and have their needs met but also to teach them life skills they are going to need when they enter the adult world. Developmentally, much of the practical skills that must be used in adulthood are taught later during the middle and teenage years, while the younger years focus more on developing character traits like empathy, stewardship and kindness. It is very easy to forget that not so many years ago entire extended families and neighborhoods joined together to teach these lessons during our younger years by helping to parent us when we were children and our parents were busy or not around.
Such community support has unfortunately become a thing of the distant past for many people, which requires parents to rely more heavily on schools to supply some of these lessons. The trouble is that many the overstretched parents of teens may not realize they still need to fulfill the role of teacher themselves now that the children are largely grown and independent. Many of these life skill lessons then slip through the cracks as teachers are focused on college readiness and test scores and parents struggle just to have a decent relationship with their teens. Many parents fall into the trap of filling more of a friendship role with their teenagers and miss the opportunity to pass on some very important life skills.
It’s easy to forget some of these lessons as parents as we struggle to keep the household operational, often with both parents or one single parent working long hours to make ends meet. We worry so much about the big issues like drug use, pregnancy, alcoholism and gangs that we often miss teaching our kids the simple but important things they need to know to become responsible adults.
The Lucy Dakota Life Skills for Teenagers series can help to ease the stress of remembering all the little things that are so vital to your children’s success. Through her life tips series, the Lucy character aims to take the mystery out of skills like balancing a checkbook, doing laundry, cleaning your home or shopping for everyday groceries. She also helps to reinforce the important character lessons that we worked so hard as parents to convey earlier on in life and she shows how to use these same skills in more advanced adult situations.
Although we all want to have good relationships with our teens, please be sure to keep in mind that being too much of a friend can sometimes backfire and leave you without the respect needed to be successful in your role as teacher. Using other people in your community as mentors for your teen can help give them an additional trusted adult whom they can ask questions to about life and using tools like the Lucy Dakota Life Skills for Teenagers series can help make the skills you need to teach them more relatable to their stage of development. Please use all the tools Lucy has to offer to make your experience raising your teen easier, more joyful and hopefully more loving and connected.