Well-Being Australia chairman and Baptist minister, Mark Tronson believes parents should not fret if their children aren't taking on board their advice, but it is important that they have the support of a Christian mentor should a situation arise that they can't handle alone.
"The guidance parents give is generally affected by familiarity. From birth parents start giving advice and by the time the children are young adults this advice starts to sound like a broken record," says Mark Tronson.
"One of the reasons for this is that parents are giving advice rather than offering conversational solutions. Unfortunately, dictating wisdom doesn't usually have a positive effect on young people," he says.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Usually later in life when the youngsters have grown up and have a family of their own, the parental advice from childhood will resonate and regain its wealth. However, during those crucial teenage years advice from mentors or respected family friends is more likely to get through to the teenage psyche.
Research shows that in the late teens and early twenties, mentors are some of the most important figures in a person's life. It is during this time that the teenage brain remoulds itself into a transitional state between childhood and adulthood. This may explain teenage reckless behaviour and a receptiveness to new ideas.
Many local Christian churches have strategies in place, offering mentor figures for young adults. Mark Tronson remembers how important these youth mentors were for him when he was growing up.
"I particularly recall the advice from my Canberra Baptist Hockey Club coach. I saw him five times a week and voiced my anxieties and problems to him," says Tronson.
"I remember having a dispute with my parents and the coach helping me through my issues. He reminded my how lucky I was to have parents that loved me and a stable home when other teenagers had nothing of this," he says.
These days specific mentor programs for both teenage girls and boys are offered by most suburban churches, ensuring there is always someone available to talk to and confide in.
Mentors are extremely valuable figures for teenagers. They teach young people that they can rely on a respected older person who has no motive other than to offer wisdom and advice so that sensible choices are made during these difficult years. A mentor with a casual, conversational nature and great sense of humour is more likely to get through to a teenager than an over-protective, strict or worried parent.
Obviously different personalities will respond in different ways to different people, making it important that a variety of personalities are available to act as mentors at these churches and organisations. What one child might need from a mentor may differ from the next and it is imperative that these teenagers can find a person they build a rapport with and can confide in.
Mark Tronson is in full support of all mentor programs within Christian communities.
A mentor can be much more than 'just a friend', they can be a confidant, an inspiration and even a teacher. Mentors are impartial people, there to help young adults through the difficulties and anxieties that come with being a teenager.
But don't worry parents! As your children grow older, they will begin to respect and value your advice more! Sometimes an alternative perspective can be a bit more engaging. After 33 years of ministry, Mark Tronson has seen that people rely on both family ties and the bonds of friendship, some of which have formed from a mentor relationship.