We all want our children to experience success. But what does that truly mean?
What is meant by “success”, otherwise we may push our teens to fit a narrow definition that can get in the way of thriving in the long term. We must be mindful to not focus on two common measures of success—the smile on their faces and the grades they produce in school.
It’s not that happiness or grades aren’t important. However, we need to look beyond the young person who stands before us, and envision the adult we are building. When we focus on the future, our understanding of a successful adolescence broadens.
What makes an adult successful? They contribute to the world in many different ways. They have learned to follow the path in which they can best contribute. Our challenge as parents is to guide young people to discover their own strengths. Successful adults:
Have high expectations
Don’t let your teens feel like they are letting you down as they grow. Rolling your eyes or having low expectations can make them worry about growing up.
Show them how to overcome their weaknesses
We are all uneven. Everyone excels at some things but not others. Show teens ways they can put in hard work and effort to help make up for shortcomings in some areas.
Try new things
Encourage teens to try out a variety of activities to help them figure out what they’re good at, what they may have to work hard at, and where they may want to focus energies.
Learn to see your teen for who he is completely
Your teen deserves parents who care about his short-term achievements—but over-focusing on these short-term goals can undermine some of the qualities needed to become a healthy adult.
Thinking about the adults you are raising takes pressure off of you. Your teens’ success is not about whether they are happy in any given moment, nor is it about what they do immediately after high school. Young people have a lifetime to achieve success. Your job is not to get them to the finish line, but to prepare them with the character strengths that will launch them into the future.