Making A Better 2018

Making A Better 2018

During my last support group of the semester, we discussed 2018. One student, a senior and a teen mom, shared that she was more motivated than ever to graduate on time in May. Her son is only a few months old, and childcare is an ongoing challenge for her. Even though her path is far from easy, she was excited for what the new year would bring.

Are you excited?

Many of us spend this time of year reflecting on where we want to be. Statistics says that almost half of us will be setting resolutions and goals for 2018. Among the most common goals are: I will exercise every day and eat healthy. I will read one book a month. I will budget my money better. I will get organized. I will travel.

According to Nielsen Analytics Firm, “Only 14 percent of people over 50 actually achieve their resolution, compared to 39% of people in their 20’s.” Many times, people in the 15-24 year-old range have a reputation for not being consistent or not being motivated. However, that just isn’t the case. Students and young adults are willing to take risks and to follow through on those risks. Resolutions are a perfect example of this.

The older we get, the more we allow scars of the past and fear masked as wisdom to get in the way of achieving our goals. We get into our routines and ruts. We insulate ourselves. Our dreams and goals become safer, tamer, less challenging, or perhaps even less world-changing. We don’t have to push ourselves to change, and no one will force it upon us. We calculate our risks and then discuss all of the pros and cons before making a commitment. We often fail to reach them, and in turn become a bit disenchanted with goal-setting.

However, the teen moms I have in my support group each week are more than willing to take risks and follow through with commitments in order to achieve success. What can we learn from them? The mom I mentioned, who is excited and driven to graduate on time, is a great example. She knows that it helps both her and her child in the future for her to do so. Financial difficulties and lack of sleep, among other challenges, are not deterring her. She knows what she wants and knows the path she will need to walk this year in order to achieve her goals. And I believe that she will succeed.

As you make resolutions for 2018, or even if you don’t plan to make any, take a minute and take a page from the students and young adults around you. Encourage your children or the students you interact with each day or week. Ask them what their goals are, and push them to reach for their dreams this year. Statistically, they are more likely to succeed, and they will remember who cheered them onward and who the naysayers were. Pursue your own dreams with zest and passion, and don’t allow the potential risks or the fear of failure prevent you from moving toward an amazing 2018.


What are your goals for this year? How can you help the teens in your life reach their full potential in 2018? We are wishing you a Happy New Year full of opportunities and possibilities!

Beth Nichols is Teen Life’s Program Manager. With her background in social work and experience as a mom of 4, her perspective is invaluable.
5 Ways to Keep Peace in Your Home

5 Ways to Keep Peace in Your Home

Welcome to a new year! If your’s started anything like mine, it was not as planned. Just before midnight, my wife and I had the opportunity to clean up after a sick kid. But you know what – it didn’t ruin our evening, and I would contribute that in large part to her but also to some established guidelines we have in our home. These are a work in progress for us, and I hope they will be for you, too. Whether you apply this as a parent, youth minister, teacher or counselor, I believe this list can help you literally keep the peace.

I want to do things a little backwards in this post. Most of the time you would wait until the end for a bonus, but I’m going to give you the bonus first. The list below works best in the context of some other established “house rules”. The one I believe has had the most influence in our home is that we don’t talk about what could have been. What I mean is that we don’t ever bring up, “Well if we had not decided that, or if this person wasn’t here, or if we had done this my way, everything would be okay.” This is bonus because without house rules (some would say family values) any other rules you try to enforce will be met with significant resistance or worse confusion. Establishing what your family, classroom, youth group, etc., hold as their standards will allow you to have conversations about how that can best play out for all of you.


1. Create a plan when things are calm– This seems so simple and may even feel like something you hear all the time, but have you actually followed through and done it? My guess is probably not. If you have, great! Then you have a chance to revisit the steps you have in place or the plan for handling difficult situations. If you need to establish a process, plan or put steps in place, then schedule a time to get it done. This is one of those things that can feel like, yeah we will get to it. But you won’t. You have to prioritize it by setting aside the time.


2. Involve your teen (child) at home– I don’t mean the process of creating a plan, that should be a given. Involving your child at home means having chores they are expected to do. It means including them in family decisions and asking for their input about how things are going. Then, you need to be willing to implement ideas they have for making things better.


3. Follow through – There are a miriade of reasons this is important. As a parent, your follow through is important to help your kids build trust with you. That applies to everything from discipline to showing up at school activities to expecting them to do their chores. Of all the things on the list, this may be the hardest for me with young kids, but the best way I have found to be more effective is to be very careful with what I say I am going to do and very intentional with what I do say.


4. Don’t treat everyone the same (and talk about why) – A real struggle as a parent or youth worker is the tension of treating everyone equally but not the same. Each person is different. Because that is true, it’s so important not to treat them as if they are not. This is especially hard for parents of multiple kids. To be aware enough to handle situations with each kid differently is a significant task on top of everything else. As your kids grow, the importance of independence and connection will collide. As the adult, it is essential to continually work on how this is happens with the teens and kids you interact with but it is worth all the effort you put into it.


5. Be creative, you’re the adult– There is no parenting manual. This can be a tough thing, but it can also be good. You know your kids best and only you can truly come up with the best way to teach and train them. In my opinion, the key here comes in the posture you have as the adult. Recognizing this is a long term process, like 18-24 years, is necessary to keep things in perspective. With that mindset, you can approach more situations age appropriately and with more empathy and grace. Each and every situation is potentially a teachable moment but is not dependent on the child’s ability to absorb the lessons, but rather your ability to communicate it clearly…again. You may feel or say you have tried everything but you haven’t. Try something that seems ridiculous and unrelated. You may be pleasantly surprised by the connection your teen can make to the lesson they need to learn.


Obviously, this is not a prescription or exhaustive list. I would recommend looking at books and blogs from Mark Matlock, Kevin Leman, Michelle Borba, and Daniel Siegel to keep your thoughts fresh and continue exploring how you can be the most effective adult influence in the lives of teens you encounter.

Ricky Lewis is our Executive Director and has been with us since the beginning. As a father of 4, he seeks to help parents and their kids Live Life Better.

and a Happy New Year!

and a Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas…and a Happy New Year from Teen Life!

We hope that you had a blessed Christmas and will have a Happy New Year. Once again, thank you for your continued support and encouragement. 2016 was our biggest year yet, and we are excited to continue to encourage, equip and empower teenagers to live life better! In case you have missed our last few updates, this year we presented at a National Conference, trained counselors to lead Teen Parent Support Groups in schools and served more school districts than ever before. We are excited for what 2017 will bring, but we need your help to continue growing and serving teenagers! It is not too late to give before the year is over and impact the lives of even more teens. Simply go to this link, watch our new awesome video and give online. Thank you for making the work we do with teen possible!