1461 days

There are approximately 1461 days from the time our students walk in to high school at age 14 or 15 and when they graduate at age 18 or 19. Over teen 2half of those days are spent in school being educated academically and socially. Being able to navigate academics and the social setting are critical to their success in college and beyond. The teachers and educators need to do their job in the classroom, but we need to do ours in the home.

As I see it (note that I’ve only raised a child to age 14 so far), over the next four years parenting is a process of letting go; giving our children rules or guard rails and then letting them navigate. We need to lifeguard them through these waters. There will be times when it feels like a tug-of-war – they want more freedom than you are willing to give and you don’t know how much to give. If we do this correctly, our kids will have just enough freedom so that when they mess up we can help make the correction. And when they do well, we can recognize their good judgment.

Academics

teen 3There are over 700 days of high school learning. This level of academics should not only teach facts and figures, but also how to think critically. The classes our students take should help them as they begin to figure out are they more science and math oriented or arts and literature minded. These small decisions will begin to lead them toward their next level of education – college or trade school. Guiding a student toward their natural aptitude isn’t just the teacher’s task; this is part of parenting. A young person can change a lot in four years. Parents need to allow them to grow up and grow out of childish things. Parents need to allow them to change. Take time and an interest in guiding your child to learn more about what they like to do. Volunteering is a great way to give a young person experience in an area they may love. Volunteering is also a great precursor to a first job.

Social

A young person’s social life and experiences become very important during high school. It is important that they find friends who are encouraging and fun. This is a great time for parents to help foster good friend choices. Help the high school student understand that who they hang out with archiesays something about themselves. Being affiliated with the wrong people can lead to trouble. This can include who they choose to date. Boyfriends and girlfriends can have too much power over the thoughts and actions of the other. This is an area that parents need to stay engaged. Know who your child’s friends are. Do you call to confirm parties will be chaperoned? Do you read your student’s texts?

This may frustrate your high schooler, but who cares? Oh, you do and that is why you read their texts and call to make sure all is right with the party or event they have been invited to. Reading text messages provides parents with the opportunity to not only learn about their own children, but also about the friend group. The key to this is for the parent to not over-react. I speak from experience on this one. Remember no matter what you read, that the only person in the text conversation you are responsible for is your own child. My rule is that I won’t say anything about what the friends’ text unless it’s something dangerous or illegal. This opens the door to talk about social media and remembering that anything texted, emailed or posted can come back to haunt.

On the party front, one way to not sound like all you are doing is checking up is to call the parent of the student having the party and confirm the time and location and then ask if you can send something – cookies, soda etc. This will open a conversation about the evening and makes it easier to ask about chaperones.

Spiritual

When a young person graduates from high school and goes off to college, work, military or trade school, it is absolutely critical they have a firm spiritual foundation. It’s in those first few years out of high school that if a young person doesn’t stand for something, they will fall for anything. The world can be a scary place for a young person who isn’t grounded in their faith. The mistakes they make at this level can have consequences that are steeper and harder to correct. Academics and social are important, but the choices that will make can be made with much more maturity and wisdom if they have a confidence in their faith.

 

While high school is a time to begin cutting the apron strings, the strings should still be attached. Parents need to remember that a high school teenstudent should be given the freedom to make some of their own decisions; knowing as parents, we are their safety net. We are available to lovingly guide the teenager through the successes and consequences of their choices. Parents, we are still in charge of these young people. Don’t let go too early. What appears to be a mature young man or lady, is really a child who just taller than we are. Inside they are screaming for us to be in charge and help them.

Let me challenge you to do 3 things each day for 1461 days: pray for your children, hug them and tell them they are loved. If you are reading this and have no children of your own, go ahead and do this for a niece or nephew or some other close young person in your life. Pray for their parents as well.-

A teenager who knows they are loved and has someone in their corner will make better choices in friends and activities.

Just a thought,

KK

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