Yesterday, I was talking to a friend whose daughter starts high school today. Even on the phone, I could hear the angst in her voice. I am remember that angst well. There is a lot to worry about during the high school years and it’s a little scary for parents. So, here is a guide to help you, the parent, survive the next four years. These are my 10 best tips.
1. Your child will be more stressed than in middle school. In high school, classes are more difficult, workload is more intense, teacher expectations are higher. Some teens handle the stress better than others. You may need to step in and come up with ways to help your teen cope. When meltdowns happen, they usually are late at night. Do what it takes to smoothe things over and get your teen to go to bed.
2. In high school, people are annoying. Your teen will come home and talk about how much he or she is annoyed by some teacher, classmate, friend, or maybe even by you. That’s just the way it is. Don’t take it personally.
3. Phones play a bigger than ever role. Teens take pictures of assignments, share homework, look up answers and of course socialize on their phones. Just get used to your teens staring at their screens.
4. You likely will NOT get the whole story. When teens hit the high school years, they start to keep information from their parents. You may hear part of the story, but it’s normal for teens to hold back.
5. Lunch is when big things happen. Arguments, relationships, friendships, cheating…the beginnings of these activities tend to start during lunch. If you are going to ask your teen about his or her day, pay attention to what went on at lunch time.
6. Teachers prefer students to resolve their own issues. There is nothing wrong with parents interceding when a situation gets out of hand, but in high school it’s best to let your teenager try to fix an issue on his or her own first.
7. You don’t get to choose your teenagers’ friends. This is a tough one for parents to accept, especially for moms who made playdates for their kids or organized sleepovers. In high school they choose their own friends and they may choose some you don’t like.
8. These next four years can get expensive. First there is the clothing. Then there is the car, insurance and gas. There also are class rings, homecomings, proms, clubs fees, club fundraisers, sports fees and uniform costs, entrance to football games, and supplies like computers and calculators. Without realizing it, the costs add up. You may want to budget for additional costs or talk to your teens about contributing for the items they consider most important.
9. If your teens says something you do is nerdy, believe them. My daughter reminds me that I wanted to drive her up to the front of the school and she insisted it was nerdy. Apparently it took me about a week to understand that the further away I dropped her from the front, the better.
10. Every year of high school counts. Encourage your teen to do his or her best every year. Colleges look at rigor, grades and activities starting freshman year. If your teen is not doing well in a course, try to catch it early and get him or her a free in-school tutor or request a transfer into another course.
High school can be as challenging for parents as it is for their children. Hang in there! You will be surprised at how fast four years fly by!