Carolina starts high school this year. Yep, she’s a lowly freshman. Is she nervous? Yes. Am I nervous? Hell yes!
Elementary years are great. You’re active in the classroom. You go on field trips. Our kids want us there to see what’s going on, what they are accomplishing. And best of all, we can be that over protective, over bearing parent and our kids are none the wiser.
Middle school. Scary time. Kids are now being released on their own and starting to grasp the idea of freedom. Some kids are a little too much to handle, you know the ones that become overly loud and try to make a name for themselves. No filter, really. But I understand, this is a time when kids are trying to fit in and find themselves. So here we are, sending our kids out into the wild to fend for themselves. No protection from other students that may be establishing their dominance and seniority. Inflicting who know what on our kids.
As parents, we’re not so involved in the classroom. Let’s face it, our kids at this point don’t want us around, we are embarrassing. Now we sit back and cry like it was the first day of kindergarten. We were terrified then because we didn’t know if our little ones would remember how to get to a classroom. No we’re terrified our kids will be eaten alive by the onslaught of 8th graders who currently rule the school. Middle school years are the most formative in my opinion. They set you out on a path of discovery, and we hope our kids make the right choices….without us.
Are We and Our Teens Ready?
High school. It’s all downhill from here. We loosened the reigns for middle school and now we seem to lose all control.
Am I ready for that? Can I do this? Really, can Carolina handle it? Scary, I know, but our parents did it, now we have to do it for our kids.
I’m paranoid enough about Carolina because she’s an introvert. Constantly worrying if she’ll put herself out there and take the opportunities to explore new possibilities. I want her to, but it’s the worry of what opportunities she’ll open herself to and hoping that there will be no negative consequences.
Like many parents, we just want our kids to be happy and enjoy themselves.
That’s all I want for my kids. To ensure this, we should stop doubting our kids, and have enough faith in them being up to the challenges a new school, new chapter of their lives bring for them. High school is supposed to be the best years of our lives and we should help ensure it is for our own kids.
Here are a few things that may help our kids adjust to this new chapter of their lives.
- Be involved. I know it’s hard to be involved in our teen’s life, because at this point, they want freedom. However, we still need to make our presence known and show our willingness to participate in whatever school work or activities our kids take part in. We need to ask our teens about what they are doing in particular classes or projects and extracurricular activities. They just may surprise you, and ask and be thankful for our involvement.
- Encourage involvement in clubs or extracurricular activities. As I said before, Carolina is an introvert, so I am all about encouraging her to join clubs to make new friends and find things that might interest her. Remember, the word is encourage, not push. Pushing always results in defiance. The moment someone makes you feel like you have to do something, you usually push back and do the opposite. Don’t fight me on this one. I’m sure we can all relate to this. I have a pretty good idea of some hobbies Carolina enjoys, so I simply encourage activities that may fall in line with those hobbies. She may have good experiences and find her calling, meet people with similar tastes or just plain not like it. It’ll be up to her, though.
- Give space. Ok, so I’m an up-your-butt kinda parent. This is something I personally need to work on, like it or not. As our kids get older, they begin to crave space and independence from us overbearing parents. We wanted the same thing, didn’t we? Now we have to learn to let go. Be on your toes, however, and be aware and involved enough, to know when the up the butt parenting needs to be switched back on.
- Encourage time management and stay on top of school work, within reason. Time management is important in any aspect of school. Carolina lacked this trait in middle school. I must have had conversations about time management every week with her. School work, we’ve done our time, and now our kids need to understand that time management is a skill they need to master now, because it will be used time and time again in the future. School work is our kids’ responsibilities. My simple suggestion is that we become actively involved parents that are aware enough about what school work our kids have and what’s expected of them, and seeing to it that they are actively managing their time in an effective manner to complete said work. No constant hovering, no constant emails with teachers. We can ask questions like “do you have homework” “how much work do you need to do, tonight” “working on any special projects.” Our school system has an online program where parents can see assignments from classwork to projects, and also shows completion with grades. If your school system offers the same, just take a moment once a week to check up on your kids assignments. It helps keep you in the loop if you have a teen that doesn’t willingly speak about their assignments.
- Encourage fun or downtime outside of the school setting that is not related to school or school work. Everyone needs a break or we get burnt out. Don’t know about your teens, but Carolina can become a giant stress ball and needs relief. Let them have fun with friends or family that no way relates to school, including school extracurricular activities. Go fishing, to the beach, pool, weekend road trips, anything. Have your teen go to the movies with friends, even let them be mallrats. When we vacation, do we want to think about work? Absolutely not! Same applies to our teens. Have fun for fun sake!
These may or may not assist you with your teen, but they are definitely worth a shot in making things easier for you, and especially, for them. High school is a new, possibly terrifying, chapter for our teens and many parents. Personally, I was terrified just a year ago, and now it’s right around the corner.
Maybe the 6th item should be to stay upbeat.
If we maintain a positive outlook, maybe, just maybe, our teens will adapt with that attitude, also. Then we can all be a big, happy, stress-free, super optimistic family together…
Ok, maybe that’s pushing it. It’s called teen angst, after all
Best of luck, this school season!