Expect Great Things for Your Teens
“My daughter loves to wear my shoes and prance around at home saying she is Cinderella. I told her with her big feet she would never be a princess.” This mom was making a joke. I know she meant no harm, but can you imagine how crushed that poor child must have felt? In her mind, her mom was basically saying you are not good enough or pretty enough to think of yourself as a princess.
Even though most parents say they expect great things for their teens, they don’t know how to encourage them to aim high. Some parents don’t even expect any greatness for themselves. They go through life from one day to the next expecting and getting very little from life. If we as parents can’t even believe in excellence and greatness for ourselves, how then can we teach our teens that they are capable of achieving great things?
1. Words do matter
It’s so important for parents to realize how the words they speak to their children can impact them. Parents give their kids nicknames like “Stinky” and think it’s a joke. I’ve heard kids referred to as “that’s my trouble maker” or “challenged kid” and their parents wonder why they are always in trouble. As the bible says, “the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. How great a fire is set ablaze by such a small spark.” James 3:5.
We have power over the type of fire we set ablaze in our children’s lives. Are we going to set fires of distinction and greatness by speaking good things into our kid’s lives, or are we teaching them to feel inferior and unworthy by the very words that we inadvertently speak to them. Choose your words carefully. Encourage your teens to always excel. They are capable of greatness.
2. Don’t let your life experiences limit your teens.
“I never made it past sixth grade so I’m hoping my child will at least finish high school.” Why not college I asked this mom or a trade school? “My kind don’t make it to college.” She answered. As much as I don’t believe college is necessarily for everyone, it’s still sad to see that this teen is not even being given a choice to decide whether or not to attend. He’s been told that it is not achievable for him. I tell parents to look around. There are so many people who are the first in their family to go to college or to start a business, or to achieve excellence in a particular sport or trade. Our children at least deserve the opportunity to do better. It starts with deciding that you are going to help your child achieve his or her highest potential and you’ll be amazed at the opportunities that will open up for them. Don’t limit your child just because you did not achieve a certain milestone. All around us are people who have been the first to achieve their dreams. Give teens the opportunity to flourish and carry it forward for the next generation.
3. Never Give Up
There are times when despite your best efforts, nothing seems to work right for your teens. They don’t get the scholarship to the dream school that they worked so hard for. Door after door seems to close in their faces and you begin to wonder if it was really worth all the effort you put into it. That is exactly the time that you need to persist. One of my mentors, who is a very hard working and creative man had been on his life journey which appeared to be slow and arduous, but he never gave up. Imagine his great joy when out of the blue, he was offered a dream job, a job beyond his wildest imagination. As he put it, “if that job had been advertised, I would not have applied for it.” And yet, it literally fell in his lap. Sometimes on the journey we have to be willing to keep working hard, even when we do not immediately see the results. Sometimes, slowly and steadily does it and then we have to believe in the power of divine intervention that at just the right time, the right doors will be open for us, sometimes when we least expect it.
4. Dream big
Encourage your teens to dream big. Walt Disney did, and no one believed him and we now have Disneyland. Bill Gates had a dream of putting a computer in every home and it has become a reality. I know that they will be the first to admit that it was no easy task becoming the great companies that we see now, but they believed in their dreams. Henry Ford dreamt of making cars that every American could afford. He had to file bankruptcy twice in the process, but he had a dream and he stayed with it until it became a reality. Encourage your teens to dream big. That dream will motivate them to stay home and do that last assignment, when their friends are out drinking or having fun. Having a dream will help them stay focused even during the difficult times.
So we must expect great things. Speak hope into your teens’ lives. Teach them to never give up no matter how hard the journey becomes. Encourage them to dream big and to realize that there are no limitations in life except that which we impose on ourselves.
“Dream lofty dreams, and as you dream, so shall you become. Your Vision is the promise of what you shall one day be. Your Ideal is the prophecy of what you shall at last unveil.”
— James Allen