Supporting Your Teenagers

Many times as mothers of teenagers, we worry about how to connect with our children. How do you encourage your teens to grow up as men and women of character when they’re in the middle of those “my mom is so uncool” years? One way to connect your children is to support and encourage them in a goal they are working towards.

Cherie-and-KatieTo illustrate this principle, we’re introducing you to Cherie and Katie Wilkinson. Katie is the founder of the first Red Kettle Club for The Salvation Army, and her mother, Cherie, was there to support her throughout the entire process of founding the club.


4word: When did you first get involved with the Red Kettle Clubs?

Katie: At the beginning of my junior year in high school, I applied to the school administration and student council to start a new club on campus. To apply for the National Honor Society, I had to hold a leadership position. Although I am involved in several groups, there weren’t many opportunities for me to hold titled positions. So the only way I could meet the requirement was to start a club and make myself an officer.

I began volunteering for The Salvation Army in 7th grade working at the Christmas warehouse bagging and sorting gifts for deserving children. I have not missed a year since; it’s one of my favorite holiday traditions with my family. As I began brainstorming club ideas, I knew immediately that I wanted to have a service club that benefited The Salvation Army. I named it the Red Kettle Club. I made myself president, the club was approved, and I was inducted into NHS.

Now in it’s second year, the Red Kettle Club at my school (Corona del Sol in Tempe, Arizona) has achieved great success. We have more than 60 students in the club who have huge hearts for helping others. And the club has expanded; other clubs are now forming throughout the country! As I look back, I realize what a great blessing it was that I needed the officer position for NHS; the Red Kettle Club has helped me to grow in more ways than I ever imagined.

4word: Cherie, how did you show Katie that you supported her in starting her club?

Cherie: While Katie was developing the Red Kettle Club, I was there for her with guidance, encouragement and love. As in everything Katie does, I tell her daily how proud I am of her, how special she is to me, and that I love her. We talked a lot about what her vision was and what she would need to do to stay true to that vision. Katie was concerned that she may not have many others join the club. I told her that it only takes one person to make a difference.

4word: And Katie, how did your mother’s support help you in starting/running your club? 

Katie: Without my mom’s support and help, the RKC wouldn’t be what it is today. She is always so supportive of everything that I do and encourages me to stay true to myself. My mom is a great listener, and I know that I can share anything with her.

4word: Cherie, how has your support of Katie’s efforts with the Army strengthened your relationship with her? 

Cherie: Katie and I have always had a very close relationship. But because of this opportunity to work with her and watch how she interacts with others, our relationship has been strengthened. I’ve watched Katie set goals and achieve them, become a strong leader, and develop a deeper love for The Salvation Army. When I look at Katie, I see the passion that she has for helping those around her, and I am extremely proud and honored to be her mom!

4word: A similar question for you, Katie. In what ways did your mom’s support with your Red Kettle Club bring you two closer as mother and daughter? 

Katie: My mom and I are very close. I have always appreciated the things she does for me, but having never led a club before, I have had to ask my mom for advice and support on many projects. My appreciation and respect has grown for my mom since starting the club. My mom always puts others first, especially her family. Her devotion to the RKC has really shown me how much she loves what I am doing and how much she truly cares about me.


Think back to when you were a child. Was there something you were interested in doing that your parents supported you in? What was it? Share with us in the comments.