Parents of teens are charged with many responsibilities. In addition to keeping their child safe through the rebellions and missteps of youth and providing a moral compass and a foundation of faith, parents must also model accountability. Teens must learn through example how to be productive in the world and to contribute meaningfully to others in a significant way.
Preparing for adulthood involves finding a function or service to offer, like a talent or skill. But learning responsibility through a job or by diligently completing an established and agreed-upon list of tasks to help the family is also important for future success. If your teen has a talent for music and aspires to be a professional singer, she may have to supplement her income through restaurant service, child care or any other number of unrelated jobs. Encourage her to pursue her career goals, but reinforce realistic goals and help her find a “plan B” to support her financial responsibilities in the meantime. Work is good, important and expected – it’s a part of almost everyone’s life.
Teens also learn accountability through organized sports, youth military training programs, music ensembles and other structured activities that require a regular time commitment, cooperation with others, respect for the rules and functioning under an authority structure. It is important to be able to handle authority appropriately in our lives, and activities like these provide a good way for teens to learn accountability for their behavior and self-discipline within the framework of a pastime they enjoy.
Parents must also teach their teens that adults hold themselves accountable to their families and their partners. This includes sharing a healthy view of sex and open respect and affection between spouses in front of your teen. Accountability can also be modeled by parents who are divorced or separated. Honor your scheduled time with your child, and respect your visitation agreement with your spouse.
Accountability is also cultivated by establishing boundaries. Established and understood expectations and consequences help teens develop responsibility, allowing them to own their own problems, develop self-control and earn the freedom to make good, value-based decisions.
In essence, boundaries and accountability help teens form the basis of their identity – to begin to discern who they are and who they are not. They help teens say no to negative influences and teach people to take responsibility for their own lives.
However, parents must also recognize that teens need freedom to develop a sense of accountability. They must be given license to make mistakes, so they can learn from them and make better choices in the future. Ultimately, accountability is one of the best measures of future success in adulthood.
To learn more about how Compass Rose Academy can help nurture accountability in your teen, contact Compass Rose Academy today.