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Wise Teen

Are You Raising a Wise Teen?

June 14th, 2018     By Father Steven Boes, President and National Executive Director, Boys Town

Boys Town Model, Father Boes, Healthy Relationships, Parent-Child Relationships, Respect, Teens

​We hear a lot about teens being "book smart" or "street smart."

But how often do you hear about teenagers being "wise"?

These days, wisdom is an underestimated commodity for young people. Having wisdom is somewhat different from being smart or being intelligent. This special quality enables people to see situations as they really are, formulate a plan for how to respond and then act in a way that produces a positive outcome.

Of course, parents guide their children in how to perform the tasks and use the skills necessary for success in everyday life, and that's very important. The more kids practice these tasks and skills, the more routine and easier they become. But wisdom is different.

Wisdom, by its definition, is a combination of insight, or an understanding of what is true, right and lasting; common sense and good judgment; and knowledge, or the sum of learning and experiences over time. This goes beyond everyday learning, and requires parents and teens to have a trusting relationship where they feel comfortable talking about anything.  

When you teach your teen to use positive behaviors, be respectful of others and make good choices, you're helping him or her develop wisdom.

But wisdom doesn't just happen overnight; it's a lifelong process. Even as adults, we (hopefully) continue to acquire wisdom throughout our lives.

There's a story in the Bible about 10 bridesmaids with lamps who were awaiting the arrival of the groom for a wedding. Five of the bridesmaids wisely saved the oil in their lamps so they could light the way when the groom came. The other five bridesmaids foolishly used up the oil in their lamps, and were not ready when he finally arrived.

This could be called the story of the 10 teens. Teenagers make a lot of mistakes. Most of the time, they learn by trial and error, with the errors winning out many times before a lesson is learned. Or, they continually see the consequences of other people's actions and, over time, begin to understand that it's better to make good decisions rather than bad ones. Through these experiences and continuous reinforcement of their positive behaviors from their parents, teachers and others, teenagers develop the foundation of wisdom.    

At Boys Town, one of the most important skills we teach our kids is "Making Good Decisions," a key to being wise. It's a great skill for every teen to have because it can be used anywhere – at home, in school, on the job – and in any peer or social situation. Here are the steps:

  1. Accurately identify what decision you must make.
  2. Examine the choices you have.
  3. Look at the possible consequences or results (positive and negative) of each choice.
  4. Pick the first- and second-best choices based on the potential outcomes.
  5. Make a plan for making the decision and putting it into action.
  6. If the plan doesn't work, try a new approach.

There's an old saying, "With age, comes wisdom." As a wise parent, now is the time to give your teen a head start by sharing your ways of wisdom with him or her.  

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