Making Mentors

The right adults can make all the difference in your teen's life

Q. Our 16-year-old daughter is a great kid, but she doesn't always listen to our guidance and advice. It seems like she's tired of our input and frankly, we're tired of nagging her. What can we do?

A. For many teenagers, the mere fact that their parents are the ones doing the talking is enough reason to tune them out. But I've found that these same kids will happily listen to the wisdom of other adults.

Studies show that parents have the biggest influence in their children's lives. But other adults can also play a significant role in their development, especially as your children reach their teens. Proverbs 11:14 says, "For lack of guidance a nation falls, but many advisors make victory sure." Indeed, perhaps the best way we can help our children mature is to provide them with "many advisors."

Even though our church tradition doesn't place a huge emphasis on godparents, my wife, Cathy, and I asked two wonderful Christians to play this role for one of our daughters. Along with this couple, our daughter's youth pastor, her camp counselor, and even another family member have come alongside her during her teenage years to offer guidance, support, and friendship.

One youth leader told me, "The most valuable gift my parents gave me in the area of spiritual formation was their commitment to a small group of believers for over 20 years. I grew up in a true extended family and the effect on my faith was profound. These adults asked me difficult questions about the friends I spent my time with, the boyfriends I dated, and the choices I made. They called me to see how I was doing and why I didn't join my family for church on a given Sunday. Their children were my friends and their marriages my model."

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