Preparing Your Child for Adolescence
The best way to prepare your child for adolescence is for you to set the stage— for a mom and her daughter or a father and his son or a single parent and either sex to spend time together dedicated to giving their pre-adolescent the framework for what’s coming. The best hope for a good outcome is when you—the parent—are the one to explain what it means and how to make the most of this vital time in life. Here’s a quick guide to the when, what, and how of that time together:
Often parents are concerned that they will overwhelm their pre-teen or encourage premature curiosity if they jump the gun in preparing them for adolescence. A greater concern, however, is the likelihood that someone else will beat you to it. Children are typically ready before their parents are. Doctors report puberty starting as early as age 9 among some girls, and the average age for first exposure to pornography among boys is around the same age. Of course, not all children are the same. That’s why it’s important to spend time with your pre-teen getting a sense of where they are developmentally and to make the timing of your conversations a matter of prayer. Generally, your prime opportunity will fall somewhere between the ages of 9 and 12.
In your conversation about the years ahead, you should plan to address the many areas of change your son or daughter will encounter during their transition to adulthood - in their body, their decision-making, and their relationship with you.
- Body: It’s important to frame the physical changes ahead as much more than a plea for sexual abstinence. Your son or daughter needs a vision for how the internal and external changes ahead are preparing them for the joys of marriage and the miracle of creating new life.
- Decision-making: Increasingly, your child will have to make and assume the responsibilities for his or her decisions. As you maintain your overall family values in media choices, individual responsibilities (chores, homework, etc.), and alcohol/drug use, you also need to direct your son or daughter in how to make good decisions for themselves. The first nine chapters of the book of Proverbs can be a helpful guide for teens learning to discern between wisdom and folly.
- Relationship to you: Helping your son or daughter understand and embrace the changes in his or her body while challenging them to bear the responsibility of decision making will be different from the role you’ve played before. Instead of communicating like a teacher who teaches the right answer, you should explain to your pre-teen that over the next decade your role will be progressively changing to that of a coach who is there to guide them in their transition into independent development.
How: Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Set aside a special time or trip with your child to go through one of the recommended resources for joint discussion.
- Listen to the audio titled The Talk included with this kit for examples of what to say.
- Create an environment for open communication for your child to share, talk and discuss with you.
- Listen! Allow your child to share thoughts and questions without being judgmental or quick to give a lecture.
- Have fun. Your child is much more likely to listen and be open with you if you have established a good relationship by creating fun times.
The next step on the Faith Path is Purity, recommended at age thirteen. We will offer a free Purity kit to guide you.
Preparing for Adolescence by Dr. James Dobson
Emergency Response Handbook for Parents by Group Publishing
So You’re About to be a Teenager by Dennis & Barbara Rainey
Age of Opportunity: A Biblical Guide to Parenting Teens by Paul David Tripp
Five Conversations You Must Have series by Vicki Courtney
Ready for Adolescence Family Night Tool Chest from heritatgebuilders.com