“Teaching Teens Responsibility,” Ensign, Sept. 2001, 70–71
Sometimes teenagers find it difficult to make the transition into adulthood. In addition to making plans for a mission and to be temple worthy and prepare for temple marriage, teens need to prepare for adult responsibilities. The following are suggestions for parents to help teens prepare for adulthood:
Encourage realistic educational goals. Teenagers may be uncertain of career paths, but most have developed a talent, an interest, or a personal preference for one academic area over another. This is a first step toward recognizing and committing to future educational and career objectives. Encourage teens to set broad, long-term goals that include obtaining a college degree or a vocational program certificate or seeking advancement in current employment. Teaching teens to prayerfully consider their goals will also help them feel a sense of direction as they make these difficult decisions.
Encourage exploration of educational opportunities. Through research and exploration, teenagers can select a program and an educational institution that meets their needs. Some college majors require that certain requirements be met during high school. Helping your teen choose a suitable program in high school will likely improve their chances for better educational opportunities in the future. If four-year institutions seem intimidating to your teen, consider a junior college or vocational trade school. At times, the application process may seem overwhelming, but school officials and guidance counselors are eager to help.
Instill a strong work ethic. Teenagers can seek opportunities to gain vocational skills. For some, a part-time job during high school is the first employment experience. Through this experience teenagers can learn the importance of performing quality work. Doing a job well involves sustained effort, good communication, and time-management skills. In doing so, teenagers learn the value of personal accomplishment.
Encourage financial independence through added responsibility. Many teenagers can shoulder the responsibility of a personal bank account, grasp the basics of budgeting, and understand basic tax preparation. Some adults wish they had been exposed to these skills earlier instead of spending years learning by trial and error. Allowing a teenager to take part in these processes may help them gain a better appreciation for how money should be managed.
Focus on long-term successes. Teenagers often feel a tremendous amount of pressure to succeed and find their niche in society after high school graduation. The process of finding that niche can be competitive, discouraging, and disheartening. Parents should continually support their teenagers and help them see their potential to do well.—Mary R. Bastian, Manhattan Second Ward, Salina Kansas Stake