When Your Teen Lacks Direction
Adolescence is a time of constant change and endless possibilities. As your teen develops, it is common for them to not know exactly what they want to do with their life, or to frequently change their minds. However, it is not normal for your teen to have no direction at all.
Your child should be able to express hopes and dreams for their future, even if they are not well-defined. While most teenagers are naturally enthusiastic about their lives, there are some youth who seem incredibly disinterested in theirs. They appear unmotivated, apathetic, and devoid of plans beyond what they are doing this evening. Teens should show some motivation to work for their future. If they don’t, you need to try to help your child find some direction. Otherwise, you may find yourselves parenting longer than you want. Forbes shows that 59% of the parents in the U.S. are still providing continuous financial support to their children even though they have stopped schooling.
How Parents Can Inspire Their Teens
You cannot force your child to be motivated. Motivation is an internal drive. If you act anxious or pushy about their future, they will either become more resistant to becoming responsible or they will go through a few motions to get you off their back without making any real change. The trick is to inspire your teen! Here are a few suggestions as to how to do that:
Be inspiring. Ask yourself if your behaviors are inspiring. Children respond best to role modeling. What are you showing your teen? Are you always complaining that you are in a dead end job or that you hate your work? Are you excited about your own future? Do you have dreams that you work towards? If not, you are role modeling an adulthood that looks disappointing to your teen. Instead, work towards learning new things and finding experiences that excite you. More than likely, you will soon find that your teen will do the same.
Address worries. Sometimes teens feel ill prepared for or overwhelmed by the demands of being an adult. Talk through the responsibilities of adulthood and ways that your teen can learn some of those skills now. For example, you should discuss the types of jobs they want to do, help them make portfolios and resumes, and drive them to their job interviews.
Plant seeds based on your teen’s interests. The best way to get someone inspired is to tap into their natural interests. Consider what things your teen really likes to do and set up experiences that will connect their talents with a future. For example, if they like music, maybe you can help them get a part-time job at a music studio or store, or if they like science, maybe you can set up a job shadowing experience for them at the local lab. Connect their interests with real-world experiences.
Explore careers. Studies show that if a young person finds a career that excites them, they are more likely to graduate, improve their academic performance, set goals and pursue them, improve their attitude about school, and have higher self-esteem. The problem is that teens are often not aware of all of the different types of careers available to them or what types of skills each career needs. Suggest your teen take a career test at the Princeton Review, which will list possible careers based on questions they answer. They might also consider perusing the Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook, which shows what different careers pay and what schooling is needed to be in that career. Parents should open their teen’s eyes to the many possibilities available.
Tips for Motivating Young Adults Into Financial Independence
With almost two-thirds of parents supporting their children after schooling, you might want some suggestions on how to ease your child into financial independence.
When your teen is in high school, you can begin the process of weaning them off your bankroll. Do not supply your teen with everything they ask for, do not give them too much pocket money, and start teaching them ways to provide for themselves. Encourage them to budget, work and save for items they want.
If your grown child is still living at home for free, experts advise parents to establish a deadline for them to begin paying rent or moving out. For example, you might tell your child, “Now that you are grown, I want you to become a responsible and independent adult, which will ultimately make you a much happier and successful person. You need to find your own place to live within 6 months, or I will have to begin charging you rent and for your portion of the food.” Similarly, don’t encourage your child to become a “freeloader” by purchasing their wants and desires, such as the latest gadget. They should work to acquire what they want.
As a parent, don’t forget that it’s your responsibility to consider what may be behind your teen’s behavior. If your teen appears unmotivated or uninspired, be sure it’s not masking a larger problem. Apathy can play a very protective role in an insecure teen’s life. By not caring or committing to anything, a teen can feel they are protecting themselves against failing. Another reason for lack of motivation could be anxiety and stress. Teens feel a lot of pressure in their academic and social lives. Your efforts to motivate and inspire your teen will fall flat if there is an underlying problem that is not resolved.