What kind of a role model are you for your teenager
A recent poll sponsored by Junior Achievement shows an alarming disconnect in teenage ethics and behavior. Just more than 50 percent see their parents as role models. Almost half of the respondents thought lying to their parents is fine. While 80 percent of teenagers believe they would behave ethically in the workforce, 38 percent said it’s fine to break the rules at school to succeed in life. Just a quarter of the teenagers said they would report unethical behavior in the workplace.
Where does your teenager fit into those statistics? And how can you ensure you’re raising a trustworthy, honest person?
One good place to begin is schoolwork. Studying and preparing in school is much like holding down a job. Both require study, meeting deadlines, and working well with others. A report card is much like a performance review. The sooner students realize they alone are responsible for their work, the better prepared they’ll be to enter college and the workforce.
We all know the parents who “help” their children with elaborate school projects. Their children are the ones who arrive at the science fair with a 1/16th scale version of the entire solar system. As a parent, I know it’s tempting to jump in and help when your student is struggling with homework. As the clock ticks toward bedtime, sometimes it even seems easier to provide an answer or two. But how will that help your son or daughter succeed on his or her own?
Think about this same situation in your own workplace. Imagine you have a co-worker who is unable to finish projects on deadline, who constantly needs assistance and help, or who cuts corners to succeed. Would you be as willing to help that person? Or would you wonder how he or she got the job?
Now imagine the same type of scenario in the health field. A friend of mine is a nursing instructor at a private college. Some of her students just don’t work hard. Some expect extra time to complete projects. Others claim they don’t have to learn how to calibrate medicine dosages; after all, machines do that nowadays. Do you wish to be treated by someone who was a lazy student, yet still graduated?
As parents, we must be strong role models for our teens. And that often means taking the road less traveled, risking being labeled “strict.” Actions truly do speak louder than words. When it comes to school, outline your academic expectations and hold your student accountable. Be clear that cheating is never an option. Encourage your student to always do his or her very best. Whether students get an A+ or a C-, if they have given it their all, they have succeeded.
The next time you want to jump in and do something for your student, remember that short-term fixes provide only short-term solutions. After all, you’re not only raising a son or daughter, you’re raising the next generation. Make sure your teen is equipped with a strong moral compass and you’ll ensure a strong workforce for the future.
Rose Rennekamp is the vice president of communications for ACT. She is a mom and has a master’s of education in guidance and counseling. For more college and career-planning information, visit www.act.org or e-mail Rose at collegeandcareer@a