If you have a teenager, or a preteen, you're most likely fully aware of the difficult environment your child is growing up in. More and more it seems as if our society opens endless doors for our growing, impressionable teens; often leaving parents behind the curve. As a parent myself, I know that teens today have so many obstacles to face that didn't exist in my teenage years.
Social media, cell phones, internet access, and gaming chats are just the beginning. Many parents may not even realize that there are so many tech outlets available to their teen that they have never even heard of. This limitless onslaught of tech has become a pandora's box of sorts; affording teens multiple outlets but leaving them little guidance and often leading them into unhealthy and sometimes dangerous situations.
So what is a parent to do? You can't be everywhere, and it isn't possible to know every thing your teen is doing at every moment, so how can a parent possibly make a impression in their teen's life with so much cultural 'noise' in the world to distract and pull your teen away from your guidance?
I believe that the answer lies in two areas, communication and development of identity and self-worth.
The former, communication, is something that needs to be ongoing and constant; in the small things and the big things, teens who have parents that show interest in their thoughts, beliefs, and wants, will feel as if they have someone at home on their side. Small conversations help lead to the bigger (and more difficult ones) because it normalizes conversation in your home and becomes a natural part of the everyday movement of your family. Your teen may not be open to communication at first, so just start small; eventually you'll find a topic that is easy and fun to talk with them about.
The latter, development of identity and self-worth, is a slightly more complicated topic. Teens today are finding themselves, just as we were, but with all of the cultural noise it's a lot harder for a parent's voice to ring true in their ear. That's why a healthy hobby that reinforces the types of vaues your family holds dear is so important. It's why we at Ingram's are so passionate about what we do. Instilling the concepts of hard work and physical fitness into a teen's life is important for creating balance, but it's just the beginning. The types of life lessons that can be learned at our dojo can take root in a teen's mind and become a driving factor as they grow and mature.
I believe that helping teens learn their strengths will build confidence; and the healthy challenges karate presents are perfect for just that. I believe that teaching teens to do the right thing, even when no one is looking, helps them when life presents them with peer pressure. I believe that teaching teens to have a goal, and not give up on it even when it becomes difficult helps them learn to dig in and do the work when the going gets tough; and I also believe that helping teens learn to tune out much of today's cultural noise and focus on developing themselves in a positive manner is something that many teens don't realize is an option. These are all at the core of helping teens develop a sense of who they are, and it's what will lead them to realize that the choices they make will eventually make them.
In karate, everyone is their own individual and each person's progress and success rests on them alone. With the help of a good sensei, teens begin to learn that they are strong (even when the world says they are weak), that they are capable (even when the world discounts their ability), and that they are valuable to their family, their dojo, and to the world.
I can't imagine where I'd be or what my life would be like if my parents hadn't signed me up at Ingram's, and I'm eternally grateful to them for helping me through all of the times when I thought I couldn't keep trying, when I wanted to quit; those were the moments that made me who I am, and I became that person at Ingram's.