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Go Ask Mom

Mom of Teens: A living example

Posted November 3, 2010 11:36 a.m. EDT

I recently started a new job. I had been working at my old job for almost eight years. My girls were excited for me. They thought it meant two weeks of goofing off!

During my last two weeks on the old job, I was trying to be very diligent about documenting things, performing last minute training and covering for people on my team who were trying to get in some time off before I left. I even went in early a few times. This completely baffled my teenagers. They kept asking me why I was working so hard. “What are they going to do, fire you?”

In their minds, when I gave my resignation, that freed me from all responsibility to that job. I explained to them that my commitment to my job did not end until I walked out of the door on the last day. And then I lived it out. Children, especially teens, need to see you live what you preach. Otherwise, it's just words to them. Even though it was hard some days to get up, go in and work hard, I did it anyway. I came home and gave a report of what I had accomplished that day.

So that they understood how this applies to them, I gave them a school example. Until the day you have your high school diploma in hand, you need to stay committed to school. Just because a college accepts you, you are not suddenly free from having to attend class and complete school work. You still have a responsibility to complete high school. Likewise, just because a new company was going to employ me, until that last second of the last day of work on the current job, I had to stay committed.

On my last day when I stayed longer than I thought I would, I expected them to ask why I worked so hard on my last day. Instead they said they knew I wanted to leave everything in good condition for my co-workers. Indeed, I did. But most importantly, they had learned the lesson I had lived out for two weeks. Now I just hope they remember it when they enter the workforce!

If you want to teach your teen something about life, sometimes you need to be a living example. Don't just preach it, live it.

Marietta Taylor is the mom of two girls ages 15 and 14 and has been married for 17 years. The family moved from Chicago to Raleigh in 2003. The first few years were a wild ride and were the inspiration for her first book, "Surviving Unemployment Devotions To Go!" Read more about Mari on her blog and website. And find her here monthly on Wednesday on Go Ask Mom.