By: Gene Roehlkepartain, Guest Blogger
One of the most important things your child can do is to internalize the values they will live by. For moms, dads, and other parenting adults, this process can be both rewarding and terrifying. On the one hand, we see children expressing their honesty, compassion, and other positive values that we would hope to pass on to them. On the other hand, they often also do things that don’t reflect our values—or even that contradict our deeply held values. Other influences in their lives—peers, media, other adults—can influence them to adopt values and perspectives that we may not share. We may feel like it’s out of our hands. But it’s not.
Even though it’s critical that young people internalize their own values (rather than having them imposed), parenting adults continue to shape and influence their children’s values throughout the teenage years and into adulthood. The goal and challenge for parents is to help teens “make their own” the kinds of values that help them make positive choices throughout their lives. Moving from external control (such as doing what your parent says you should do) to self-regulation (doing what you believe in doing) is a central task of growing up, particularly during the teenage years.
Consider these tips to help you be a positive role model in your child's life.
Eugene C. Roehlkepartain is Vice President of Research and Development at Search Institute, and creator of the 9 Parenting Strategies. Roehlkepartain is widely recognized as an expert in child, youth, and family development in community contexts. Particular areas of interest include family strengths, community supports for families and youth, spiritual development, service-learning, youth philanthropy, and linking youth development with financial literacy. Learn more about the 9 Parenting Strategies here.
Photo Credit: Ben Earwicker, Garrison Photography, Boise, ID