High school … it can be the best of times and it can be the worst of times. I entered the era of parenting a high school student last year, and below are a few practical tips to help ease the transition for both you and your budding freshman.
1. You are Not the Student
While this one seems blatantly obvious, it is something I had to remind myself of over and over throughout the school year. All parents have hopes, dreams and aspirations for their child. However, high school is the time where teenagers come into their own skin. Inevitably their desires will not align with yours during the journey. Insisting your child continue to pursue a class / sport / activity which they are no longer interested in will feel like rowing upstream in a Class 5 rapid. The journey upstream is not an easy one, and you will be met with the raging force of teenage hormones. These times call for the phrase: ‘You are not the student!’ Repeating the phrase in my head has helped me shift from causing more pressure to offering support for my teen.
2. Plans are Ever Changing
Teenagers change their plans, OFTEN. During the first two years of high school most teens do not have a driver’s license making you the catalyst for these plans. In elementary school, things were simple. In high school, things get more complex. I learned quickly about the unlimited possibilities of after school plans. Stay on campus to study (aka socialize), walk to the coffee shop, attend a club meeting, sports practice, ride home with a friend, and the list goes on. The plan your teen had in the morning may be different by lunch hour.
Weekends are a completely different animal. My best advice is to keep a full tank of gas and a wide open calendar. Also, savor moments in the car. Some of the greatest conversations take place driving to and from. If not conversation, often this is the best place to overhear your teen and friends discussing all the things. Some of these things you will want to know, and some you will wish you never heard. My teen is roughly six months from getting her driver’s license, and this honestly arrived faster than I could have ever imagined. Teaching a teen to drive is a topic for another post!
3. Do Not Put all of Your Eggs in One Basket
This one may be a hard pill to swallow for some. Like many families, we spent years devoting time, money and energy to one particular sport. My daughter played on the school team, recreational teams, travel teams and also participated in private lessons with the ultimate goal of making the high school team. After making the high school team, she decided the sport was no longer for her. Ultimately this was a great decision which opened up new opportunities; however, you can imagine the initial disappointment. Tears were shed by everyone, but we knew her heart was no longer in it.
One of the beauties of high school is the numerous activities available. Depending on the path your child takes, academics alone can be all consuming. Throw in a sport and a club, and you may find there is not enough time to excel in everything. Many teens will continue to love and play the same sports and activities throughout high school. However, always consider that your child may not make the team or may choose to no longer play. As stated earlier, teenagers are growing into adulthood which means hobbies and interests will change. Lucky for us, my daughter has fallen in love with a new sport.
4. Praise, Praise and More Praise
Our teens are living in a hard world. A world very different from the one we grew up in. A little praise from a parent goes a long way. Although they may pretend they cannot stand you, there is a little child on the inside longing for love and attention. You will not be proud of every single decision they make; however, remember to offer praise for all the things they get right.