Dad, make no mistake … you are a model for your children as they grow from childhood to teenagers. Take it from us—even when you think your kids aren't paying attention, they are. Time and time again, both of us have seen our grown children echo some of the precepts that we used to preach and practice—many at which they once shook their heads in disgust.
As parents, we often think our kids rarely see or hear us. But their personal antennae are just as powerful and receptive as those cell towers that have shrunk our world. You will be astonished at what your teenagers—either now or in years to come—have picked up from you. You will find it hard to believe that they were tuned in to you much more than you ever imagined. After all, you were and are their primary model. They look at you in admiration even when you are convinced they can't stand the sight of you.
Dad, if you see your son or daughter acting out in a way that you do not approve, pause for a moment and ask yourself … is that how I act? If your teenager mutters a slur or makes an improper comment about something or someone, does that slur remind you of you?
Your influence sticks fast
Take it a step further and it becomes pretty dicey. If parents cheat on their taxes and, worse yet, boast about it, reveal prejudices, utter obscenities, fudge on their work time sheets, are poor losers, talk loudly and brashly and interrupt others, always have to be first in line or the last to comment, drive too fast or text while behind the wheel, kids can model those behaviors.
Or if parents treat their children unfairly, punish too severely, or show disrespect, it will have negative outcome on their children. The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study conducted by Kaiser Permanente and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed how childhood trauma leads to health and social problems later in life sometimes for many years. The problems can result in high-risk behaviors, academic failure, behavioral problems, even ill health and shortened lifespan. Early adversity has lasting impacts
Make no mistake, dad and mom, your behavior as parents will come back one day either to honor you or to haunt you. Just imagine the power of modeling the very best behavior every single day for your kids.
What a gift.
Teens who are resilient adapt to bad things in their lives. It doesn't mean you won't experience difficulty. It means you have the capacity to recover and move on, have some perspective, think of things in a constructive way, and take care of yourself
The American Psychological Association provides some tips for building resilience:
Communicate. Find someone you can relate to and express how you are feeling. This could be a parent, a sibling, a counselor, a pastor, a teacher, or a community or school group. Express yourself through conversation or activities.
Cool down. Situations can increase stress. Find peace. Practice mindfulness. Take a few moments each day to let your mind find peace, where you can see the issues you are dealing with and let them pass you by. You should have a place and a time where you can be safe and free from stress and anxieties.
Consistency. Find a routine. Stick to it. The comfort of routine provides a sense of security. This could be school clubs, extracurricular commitments or a regular activity with friends.
Care. For yourself and for others. Get enough sleep, Don't be too hard on yourself. Look for ways to help others. Do some community volunteer work, work with another student who is struggling and needs help.
Control. Set a few modest goals that you can achieve. Stay on schedule. Continue to reach out. Think about a time when you overcame a challenge. This success will help give you confidence. Limit your intake of news which can increase your stress.
Developing resilience doesn't eliminate stress or anxiety. But it certainly prepares you to handle it more successfully.