“. . .but what can I do about it? I can’t just tell him to be mature!” This was the cry of a former parent during a conference. After observing and pondering for years, I’ve narrowed it to three things: expectations, responsibility, and accountability.
If parents don’t expect teens to behave like adults, they won’t. Immature teens don’t help with household chores, hold doors open for those behind them, order their own food at a restaurant, or use table manners. They interrupt conversations and sulk or throw tantrums to get what they want. They are not considerate of others, nor do they think about how their behavior impacts others – because nobody expects them to.
Increased responsibilities allow parents to communicate trust and respect for their teens as they grow older. When I survey classes, I usually learn that about half of them don’t do regular housecleaning or yardwork; a handful don’t even make their own lunches or clean their own bedrooms. Such students miss out on the personal satisfaction of turning chaos into order, and the self-confidence that comes with completing “grown-up” work.
Parents who hold teens accountable don’t let them blame teachers for low grades or use friends as an excuse for poor choices. They allow teens to face the consequences of their actions, while assuring them of their love and support. I compare it to letting a toddler fall when she’s learning to walk – it’s the only way she learns that she can get back up and try again.
Set expectations, teach responsibility, and hold teens accountable – and you will find yourself facing a mature young adult.