The teenage years are a time characterized by a search for independence and a greater reliance on peers than in one’s younger years, when parents are one’s whole world. Despite your teen son’s occasional sulkiness, however, lies someone who very much looks to their parents as role models. During a time in which your teen is undergoing significant physical changes and a few emotional shakeups, they can feel like they don’t fit in. As their parent, you are their emotional pillar and as such, you can help them build confidence, resilience, and optimism. There are numerous life skills you can teach your teen son based on your experiences, values, and beliefs. Below are three that may inspire you.
Resilience in the Face of Challenges
If you want to teach your child to be resilient, then protecting them excessively or not allowing them to learn from their own mistakes, could backfire. From the time kids are very young, scientists actually recommend activities like adventurous outdoor play to build resilience. By attempting to climb a tree, for instance, they can learn to test their limits, set goals, study their challenge and create a strategy for success, and see failures as opportunities to know what to avoid. As a parent, you can give your child handy advice, be there when needed, and ensure their adventure-seeking remains within healthy limits. You can also model positive behaviors when you fail to achieve your own goals. By emphasizing the important lessons you have learned from your mistakes, you can boost your teen’s self-confidence and separate their achievements from their sense of identity.
Honing Financial Basics
Only 34% of Americans can answer at least four out of five basic questions on financial literacy. Being unaware of factors such as loans, mortgages, taxes, and similar matters can have dire consequences for young adults and can keep them indebted for years. To sharpen your son’s financial knowledge, start with budgeting. If your child is an older teen who is working part-time, download a budget planning app so they can see how much they are spending, what items can be considered a money waste, and how much they are saving. Hiding financial matters from teens is of little use. The time you spend together at home or driving to school is a good opportunity to occasionally talk about matters like salary, income taxes, and superannuation. Children should, above all, be aware of the importance of taking out loans after careful consideration of interest rates and key payment terms that could make or break their financial stability for years.
The Importance of Self-Compassion
As parents, we wish to instill a sense of community and generosity in our children. Sharing one’s time with others, volunteering for people in need, and being there for others are vital if your teen is to build solid, long-lasting relationships with others. However, teaching your child the skill of self-compassion (or being as kind to oneself as one is to others) is equally important. A 2018 study by Australian researchers found that self-compassion can protect people against the harmful effects of perfectionism. This in turn can help keep depression at bay. As stated by lead researcher, Madeleine Ferrari, the practice of self-kindness “consistently reduces the strength of the relationship between maladaptive perfectionism and depression for both adolescents and adults.”
There are so many skills fathers can teach teenage sons—ranging from resilience to self-kindness. While goal setting, learning, and expanding one’s knowledge base and experience are key, so, too, is being as kind to oneself as one is to friends and family. Financial literacy is also important, since the price of illiteracy can be very high for young adults and can have consequences that last way beyond their youth.