How do we set our teens on a pathway to their destiny—to help them fulfill their dreams and purpose?
It’s a fundamental question for their future—and our future—and the answer is multi-faceted. But, for now, I’d like to focus on one of the most vitally important prerequisites—a healthy and solid support system.
Research experts such as Dr. Chap Clark conclude that every adolescent needs at least five loving, trusted adults in his/her life to develop the emotional health, stability, and self confidence to succeed in adulthood. While other factors such as education, skills, and opportunities also matter, relationships with adult role models are key.
The reasons are many. Adults who have strong relationships with teens can offer love, friendship, support, affirmation, life wisdom, advice, and essential network connections. They’re tremendous assets to our children and invaluable third party voices for parents. Speaking personally, it’s been a major parenting priority for us, and our children have benefitted immeasurably from their relationships with many adult friends.
It’s great to see that some visionaries and communities are taking a proactive stance to connect our youth to caring, adult mentors. One such community is nearby University Place, Washington where community leaders of Project 5:1 recently brought speakers and resources to area parents, educators, mentors, service organizations, and the faith community at a weekend conference. Illustrating the broad-based support for this initiative, the conference was sponsored by numerous businesses; service, parent, mentor, and school organizations; non-profits; and churches. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive.
Local media supported the event as well, an indication of the compelling need for supporting our youth. As shown in the following news segment at King 5 TV in Seattle, I was honored to serve as a workshop leader on my topic, “Relationship Building Strategies to Help Teens Soar.” http://www.king5.com/story/news/local/2014/11/15/project-51-event-helps-parents-connect-with-teens/19110123/
In my talk, I shared four relationship keys with teens: 1) valuing their uniqueness, 2) affirming their worth, value, and potential, 3) communicating to build relationship capital, and 4) recruiting positive third party voices (the 5:1 concept being a perfect example). It was encouraging to see how many people are committed to building strong relationships with teens!
In this season of gift giving, it’s hard to think of a more meaningful gift than an investment in the lives our children.