“It takes a village to raise a child” is a familiar saying, and with good reason. As your teen grows, it is important for them to get to know other adults who are here to help. A support system equips teens to solve problems independently. Relationships with people besides Mom and Dad show them that they are so well loved, even beyond their immediate family. Plus, a network of trusted adults teaches teens to seek out resources when they face a challenge. Here are some ways to help your teen build a support system, fostering strong relationships among other important adults in their life.
Show your teen what it looks like to ask for — and accept — help.
Helping your teen build a support system starts with you. When you accept help, you teach your child an important lesson: everyone needs help sometimes, and it is okay to ask for it. Start with something small at home. Ask your teen for assistance putting away the groceries. Ask a friend to water the plants while you are out of town. Your teen can also benefit from seeing you support someone else. If a neighbor just had a baby, for example, invite your teen to join you in preparing and delivering a meal. This demonstrates how a community of people come together to help each other.
Invite other influential adults into your family’s life.
One way for your teen to begin building a support network is by strengthening relationships that already exist. Create opportunities for your teen to engage further with people who could be a positive influence in your teen’s life. Informal interactions set the stage. Invite the new youth pastor over for a casual weeknight dinner. Join your teen in volunteering locally, where he can meet other adults driven to help a good cause. Do not overlook those in your family, like grandparents, cousins or aunts and uncles. Help your teen foster these relationships in an informal setting.
Help your teen expand the circle.
The next time your teen asks for help, resist offering a solution right away. Instead, consider how your teen might reach out to another trusted adult. Point your teen in the right direction with ideas of people who can reinforce the same kind of positive behavior you hope to model. For example, if your teen is worried about his class schedule for the next semester, suggest his guidance counselor. If your teen is struggling with peer pressure, you might suggest her older cousin who faced a similar challenge when she was younger.
Nurture your teen’s passions.
Help your teen build bridges to adults who are pursuing paths that mirror your teen’s passion. For example, if your teen loves animals, help him set up volunteer opportunities at an animal shelter. Your softball player daughter might volunteer at a clinic for kids playing t-ball. These situations introduce your teen to people who have turned their passion into a career.
At Shelterwood, we believe in the power a community can have to restore a child. In fact, our young adult mentors are central to our program at Shelterwood. If you are curious about how Shelterwood can help your struggling teen, reach out to our admissions team. We are here to help.