Parents are role models for their teenagers.

The Importance of Adult Role Models in Teen's Lives

by Kathryn Hatter

The life of a teenager involves multiple challenges as she progresses toward becoming an adult. As teenagers navigate their world, it helps to have caring adults provide guidance along the way. As a parent, you and other adults can serve as positive role models to help your teen learn and succeed.

1. Sharing Time

You or another adult can have a significant effect on your teenager by spending quality time with your adolescent, advises Christy Lamb, assistant principal at the Ohio Connections Academy. Sharing time with her communicates that you value your teenager, which can enhance her self-esteem and feelings of self-worth. One scenario might be that you want your 16-year-old daughter to become more involved in her new school. You say to her, "You know, I went to a new school when I was 16, too. It was ...scary... Every girl had her own clique. But I helped in the community kitchen and the library and soon, the kids wanted to be friends. You and I could work at the food pantry and help out. They're holding a New Neighbor Event on Saturday. Wanna come?" Actively listening reinforces social skills and helps your teen feel connected. Adult role models have an important role, to inspire motivation and encourage a teenager to continue working toward goals, according to an article published in the University of Wisconsin-Iowa County “Parenting Teens” newsletter.

2. Positive Behavior

Adult role models have an opportunity to have a direct impact on teenagers by modeling positive behavior, advises Project Cornerstone, a YMCA of Silicon Valley Initiative. When you set an example of diligence, respect, hard work, honesty, positive attitude and empathy toward others, teenagers learn from your positive example. For example, if an elderly neighbor needs help with shopping or yard work, you could help her. Invite your teen help your neighbor, as well. The ability to see this behavior in action may convince a teen to follow your example.

3. Direct Benefits

A teenager with three or more non-parent role models is more likely to succeed, states the “Parenting Teens” newsletter. In addition, if your teenager spends time with an adult role model, she may be more likely to resist using drugs, alcohol and tobacco, according to Project Cornerstone. A coach with strong convictions about avoiding drugs and achieving goals might be instrumental in teaching refusal skills to your teen to help her stay clean. Teens also have a higher graduation rate and your teenager may have more challenging career aspirations if she has adult role models.

4. Possible Role Models

Although parents are an obvious role model for teenagers, other adults can also step in to act positively with an adolescent, advises the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. Older siblings, extended relatives, teachers, coaches and trusted neighbors are examples of adults who might become a role model for a teen. Perhaps a teacher with a passion for art sees possibilities in your child and lights a fire in him. With this encouragement, your teen might set goals, work toward them and eventually achieve them.

About the Author

Kathryn Hatter is a veteran home-school educator, as well as an accomplished gardener, quilter, crocheter, cook, decorator and digital graphics creator. As a regular contributor to Natural News, many of Hatter's Internet publications focus on natural health and parenting. Hatter has also had publication on home improvement websites such as Redbeacon.

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