Children need adults in their life who can provide leadership and advice. As a parent, you are in the best position to fulfill that role; in fact, it is your duty. However, other adults can be mentors to your children as well.
WHY IS ADULT GUIDANCE IMPORTANT?
In many lands, young people have little interaction with adults. Consider this:
Children spend much of their day at school, where students outnumber teachers and other adults.
After school, some youths return to a home that is empty because both parents have to work.
One study found that in the United States, children between 8 and 12 years of age spend an average of about six hours on entertainment media each day.*
The book Hold On to Your Kids says: “Young people are turning for instruction, modeling, and guidance not to mothers, fathers, teachers, and other responsible adults but to . . . their own peers.”
HOW TO PROVIDE GUIDANCE
Spend time with your children.
BIBLE PRINCIPLE: “Train a child in the way he should go; even when he grows old he will not depart from it.”—Proverbs 22:6, footnote.
Children naturally look to their parents for guidance. In fact, experts say that even as children enter the teen years, they tend to value the advice of their parents over that of their peers. “Parents remain the major influence on their child’s attitudes and behavior through adolescence and into young adulthood,” writes Dr. Laurence Steinberg in the book You and Your Adolescent. He adds: “Adolescents care what you think and listen to what you say, even if they don’t always admit it or agree with every point.”
Take advantage of your children’s natural inclination to look up to you. Spend time with your children and share your viewpoints, values, and experiences with them.
Provide a mentor.
BIBLE PRINCIPLE: “The one walking with the wise will become wise.”—Proverbs 13:20.
Can you think of an adult who might be a good role model for your adolescent? Why not arrange for that person to spend time with him or her? Of course, you should not abdicate your parental authority. But the encouragement from a trusted adult who you know will not harm your child can supplement the training you provide. In the Bible, Timothy—even as an adult—benefited greatly from the association he had with the apostle Paul, and Paul benefited from Timothy’s companionship.—Philippians 2:20, 22.
During the past century, many families have become somewhat fragmented, as grandparents, uncles, aunts, and other relatives may live in another part of the world. If that is true in your case, try to provide your teens with opportunities to learn from adults who have traits that you would like to see in your children.
^ par. 9 The study found that on average, teenagers spend nearly nine hours per day on entertainment media. These statistics for young children and teenagers do not include time spent online at school or doing homework.