One day it was getting braces and dealing with the teen drama of friendships and independence, and the next day I was dropping my daughter off at check-in for her freshman year of college. There are long and hard days, and there are sweet memories sprinkled in throughout, but the teen years begin so soon and end even sooner.
There are those that call them the dreaded years, but I beg to differ. The teen years are precious. You get a front-row seat as your child becomes an adult, thinking and making decisions for themselves. The foundation you’ve laid was not in vain, but now your role is different.
Your teens will leave home before you know it and yet there’s still so much to learn. How do you prepare them without pushing them away? How do you break through the noise in their life and still offer that voice of wisdom? It’s a delicate dance for sure.
I hope these words of advice will help you as you help your teen prepare for the future. Stay on your knees before God and make the most of these final days together under one roof! Even if it feels like they aren’t listening, your kids need you!
7 Ways to Help Your Teen Prepare for the Future
1. Have a weekly date with your teen.
When my oldest started college, I was shocked at how quickly the schedule changed. No longer were we in control. Even though she was living at home, we went from total homeschool freedom to very demanding college days. DON’T wait until later to say the things you want to say.
Take advantage of these precious days and hours to have conversations about all the things. I strongly recommend setting up a weekly date with your teen. If you can’t commit to weekly, do biweekly or even monthly. Show your teen you really care about what is going on in their life and TALK about things! They likely have so many questions that they just haven’t had time to ask.
Consider trying out a local coffee shop for your date or go to a pottery studio to learn something new! Ask your teen what he or she would enjoy doing with you.
Lost for ideas? A great way to get a conversation started or have something to talk about on your date is to read a Christian book or do a great Bible study together. Talking with them about God’s Word is not only a great opportunity to impact your teen for Christ, but a command from our God!
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.Deuteronomy 6:4–7
2. Equip them for prayer.
While we love to have our kids come to us for help (or maybe not, depending on the “help” needed—math homework, anyone?), your teen needs to know how to run to the God of hope, peace, and joy to find help. Navigating changing financial situations, new experiences, and growing responsibilities is only possible as your teen learns to run to their heavenly Father, the One who will provide all their needs (Philippians 4:19).
Model prayer for your teens and encourage them to practice on their own time. Encourage them to organize their prayers with help from something like a prayer calendar (sign up below) or by using a prayer journal to keep more detailed notes on their prayers. Better yet, use the calendar in conjunction with the journal!
As your teen learns to rely on God more and more in prayer, he or she will see how much God has indeed provided for them and answered those prayers. Encourage them to share those answers to prayer so you can rejoice together!
3. Show them how to pick a church.
So much research has been done on why nearly two-thirds of CHRISTIAN kids stop going to church. Did you know that not knowing how or why to pick a particular church is the #1 reason for teens falling away or being shaken in their faith?
It’s imperative that we teach our kids this skill. Encourage them to find a church where they can serve, whether through music, children’s ministries, outreach, cleaning, and maintenance, or other service opportunities. Talk with them about the purpose and goal of worship, preaching, prayer, and even church constitutions. You may want to examine the purpose of the church in the book of Acts!
If you’d like help approaching these topics, our Foundations of Faith Bible study guides you to apply Scripture and asks important questions about life and, specifically, church to help you and your teen define what your values and beliefs truly are.
4. Help them explore career options.
Do you know that most college students change their major at least once while they are in college? Whether your teen is going to college or not, finding a career path can be daunting and discouraging at times. To ease this process, consider helping them take a strength-finder test to explore the things they are good at.
If your teen wants to explore multiple career options, encourage them to start a notebook section for each career, detailing job locations, time considerations, lifestyle, compensation, and benefits. Then, they can compare each career’s benefits and potential challenges.
Help them get their hands dirty with the things they are interested in—many trades offer apprenticeships, and other career options offer internships. Maybe they can even spend a few days at a time shadowing at different jobs to get a feel for what to expect. As they do, encourage them to journal about their experiences. When you look back on these things, you can easily see strengths and weaknesses as well as likes and dislikes.
I’ve walked through this process many times with my kids as they have explored various careers. I so wish someone had done this for me! Choosing a major/career isn’t just about picking something you are good at. It’s about exploring what God has called you to.
Want to be a mom? Great, what skills should you gain in your high school and college years? Is there something you could be trained in so you can supplement your family’s income should that be needed?
Love science? Math? Explore careers in those fields that align with your family and ministry goals.
When we encourage kids to go to college and simply get a degree or seek a career, we miss the opportunity to help them think about what’s most important in life. When considering a career, these rarely asked questions should be the MOST IMPORTANT ones:
- How will this career or major help me accomplish my family goals?
- How will this career or major help me accomplish my ministry goals?
- How will this prepare me to pivot if the job market changes or my circumstance change?
5. Make a list of non-negotiables for marriage.
Yes, I know most kids aren’t ready just yet to pick a mate. But while you still have the influence, help them understand HOW. If we don’t, they may just follow their heart into divorce court with a large majority of the world. Remind them that though we cannot control all circumstances in our lives, there definitely are steps we can take to honor and follow God in our own lives and eventually choose someone who will do the same along with us.
A great place to start is examining what real love looks like in 1 Corinthians 13. Start by inserting your or your teen’s name wherever the word “love” or “charity” occurs to evaluate if you are truly loving. Then, when a person of interest surfaces, go through that passage doing the same with their name. Consider whether they are infatuated, self-centered, or indeed a loving person.
Help them think through what marriage is and what its purpose is. The world tells your teen to find that one person they can’t live without. What if you taught your teen to look for someone who helps them serve God better than they can on their own? Someone whose highest priority is loving God? Encourage them to wait for someone whose first love is Christ and who will love them as Christ loves us—faithfully, unconditionally, and sacrificially.
A book that I recommend is The Sacred Search. This book discusses the why’s of marriage to give you and your teen perspective on how to go about choosing a life-long marriage partner.
6. Teach them to be financially responsible immediately.
For me, money has been a personal struggle. I was one of those kids who graduated from college with $30K in debt and a nice sampling of credit cards to go with it. The culprit? I had very poor money habits, but most significantly, no education about handling money whatsoever. Fortunately for me, I was able to get out. But for many, life is one big debt pit, and they never get a handle on it.
That kind of lifelong struggle is the opposite of what I want for my kids. I’d rather teach them how to handle the hard money lessons now. The trouble is you can’t teach kids to manage money without giving them money to manage. And I don’t want to pay my kids an “allowance” just for honoring me with their presence. That’s why I developed this chore chart to help me teach my kids good money habits and involve them in the upkeep of their home.
For example, let your teens earn the money for their clothing budget and then put them in charge of buying what they need. The money I pay my teens for their chores is money I would have spent on them anyway, just changing hands. And actually, this delegation of responsibility saves me money since I am not caving to “gotta have it now” requests popping up right and left. Being in charge of their clothing budget helps them realize the difference between needs and wants.
This applies to summer camp and some extra-curricular activities too. It’s amazing how they race to pick up extra jobs around here to earn the money to do these things. It’s money I probably would have GIVEN them before. But now they are learning to make wise choices, manage their money, and save for big things—something most adults can’t even do!
A non-negotiable for every high-schooler in my home is Dave Ramsey’s course for teens. Dave’s advice is a little hardcore, but it’s solid money advice that will put your kids in the right place when it comes to money. That’s a gift few kids get!
Finally, DO NOT allow them to get into debt for college. The last thing you want your teen to do is dive into an expensive degree program and graduate thousands of dollars in debt with no practical experience to commend them to a good job. Show them how to go to college without debt and save them (and yourself) unnecessary stress. Debt-Free Degree is a fantastic book on this topic!
7. Help them write statements of faith.
Just as setting out on a road trip with no map and no destination is a sure way to end up lost, life without guiding principles and a foundation for your beliefs will result in confusion and disillusionment. This world is not short on ways to challenge your teen’s faith. So teach them to defend it!
Before your teen can defend their faith, they first need to solidify what they truly believe. Take some time to sit down with them and identify key parts of life in which they need to know what they believe. Need help? Consider using our Foundations of Faith Bible study to help you as you do this!
The Bible passages and statements of faith in this study will help your teen see what the Bible says about life and cultural issues. Writing out what they believe about each topic will help them determine how to respond to the discussions and situations they are sure to encounter in their early adult years.
Resource for teens to pray for the future
We’ve created this prayer calendar to help teens think through and develop prayers for their future! This is for both teens to use and parents to use when praying for their teenager.
Pray through any verses for the day to meditate on His promises.
Print out this calendar for both yourself and your teen and place it in a spot where you will be reminded to pray. Hang it on your fridge, tuck it into your Bible or prayer journal.
I would suggest printing this calendar on 8.5″ x 11″ cardstock so it will be more sturdy.
Through practical tools & Bible-based resources, Kim Sorgius is dedicated to helping your family GROW in faith so you can be Not Consumed by life’s struggles. Author of popular kid’s devotional Bible studies and practical homeschooling tools, Kim has a master’s degree in education and curriculum design coupled with over 2 decades of experience working with kids and teens. Above all, her most treasured job is mother and homeschool teacher of four amazing kiddos.