And so it begins or rather, continues…
Life never stops. It just keeps going. It doesn’t even slow. In fact, it feels like it just ramps up.
When Minhee and I welcomed our first child, J, about 14 years ago, the one most consistent advice or comment we received from those who were older and wiser were these following words:
“Enjoy. Time really flies.”
We respectfully nodded. Again and again. Every time someone said that, we responded precociously:
“Yes, we know.” (Nod. Nod. And on to the next conversation)
But the truth is you never really know how fast time flies until you actually go through the seasons of time and life. You feelin’ me?
We find ourselves telling the exact same words to the younger friends and folks in our life.
“Please enjoy. Soak it in. Time really flies…”
And of course, they respond – respectfully – in the same way that we did so often in our younger days as parents. [Nod. Nod.]
Except this time, we reject their precocious or naive nods. What do we do? We stop them, “shhh” them, and slowly share these words:
“Shhh. Listen. Hear this. Hear this well. Eat these words. Let it resonate. And thank us later.
Time really does fly by.
These days…enjoy them because you’ll never get them back. They are a blur. Please enjoy this time. Enjoy each other. Enjoy your child. Enjoy your children. Embrace this season – the highs and lows. Call upon God. Be gracious with one another. Bless one another. Be present and enjoy these days. It’s all a gift. Treasure it. Cherish it. All of it. And over all things, love one another.”
Another very significant advice I’d love to share with others is an ephiphany I woke up to couple years ago. Coming to this realization was incredibly painful but simultaneously, liberating. To be honest, it was the ultimate game-changer in my understanding as a parent seeking after the heart of God.
While there are many methods, tools, philosophies, and biblical principles to parenting, there is – in my opinion – only one purpose or destination.
Our purpose as parents is to eventually…
This is why it’s so emotional when you first drop off your child for the first time in preschool or kindergarten, and then again on the first days of middle school, high school, or college. It is a foreshadowing of our purpose as parents to ultimately, release them. As much as we want to hoard, protect, keep, board up, or lock up our kids, it contradicts the ultimate purpose that God has for us as parents: Our calling as parents is to love, nurture, protect, nourish, care, mentor, disciple, teach, correct, raise up, empower…but ultimately:
To release. To send out. To send forth.
Fellow parents: As much as we want to cling on to our children – do so with wisdom and in fact, with discerning loose hands. Be mindful of the destination and purpose. Our children are not ours to keep for eternity. But in releasing them, ponder – even now – these important questions: What is it that we release them to? To whom do we release them? What is the direction? the mission? the worldview? the mindview? the heartview?
May we point our children to Jesus – with our words, affections, and actions.
I remind myself – again – of these words (and this purpose) as school starts this week and a new season embarks in our family. For the first time, all three of our children are in three different schools – elementary (4th grade), middle school (7th grade) and high school (9th grade).
Just in case you missed it:
Minhee and I now have a high schooler in the home.
Everyone put your hands up. Hands up. Hands up.
OMG. OMG. OMG.
And as we embark on this season, I am grateful that I have advice and wisdom to share and simultaneously, covet and request wisdom and advice.
So, can you help?
Here are my questions for us as parents and for our daughter, Jubilee, who is entering high school. (FYI: All of our kids have attend public schools.) I’m going to ask her to read the comments this weekend:
- What advice would you give Minhee and I as parents?
- Perhaps from your days as a high schooler yourself or as a current or past parent of a high schooler, what advice would you give my daughter?
- [For my daughter and others] What was the best and worst thing about the high school experience for you?
- Faith. What advice would you give us – parents and student – to remain steadfast and grow in our faith as followers of Christ.
Heck, what advice would you give any parent as kids embark on another year of school?
Thanks in advance for sharing your experience, wisdom, and advice. I know it’ll encourage us and I hope it encourages others who read this.
Time flies. Let’s really enjoy it and enjoy one another.
55 Replies to “Dear parents: Our children are not ours to keep for eternity. Our purpose is to eventually release them.”
The best advice anyone gave to me came just as my oldest entered high school – just listen to them. Seriously? I like quiet. Three daughters later, I have discovered – just listen to them is the most powerful leadership tool possible.
The best thing I can offer from my experience may not be for everyone but someone will really need it: Embrace grace. Sometimes our expectations don’t meet our reality particularly if our child finds they need a different journey. Traditional high school isn’t for everyone, but in our state, we have LOTS of options. Kids with different learning styles, or different maturity levels, might need a non-traditional route – this doesn’t mean you have failed. It means you have the privilege of growing/coaching a unique individual who God will use mightily to change the world in ways you haven’t imagined.
Thanks Kim, and it is great reminder…
Simple and yet so profound. Thank you.
Amen! So wise.
When I was in highschool I went through a lot of useless drama with boy and the girls. You don’t have to be extremely pretty to have this kind of drama. If there was one thing my parent could have done correctly for me was that they could have been there. Take me out, spend time with me one on one, mentor me, etc. The drama didn’t just scar me but it left me yearning for love in all the wrong places. I dated so much it would blow your mind. If I had the right friends, parents, mentors, godly counsel I think my teen years and young adult years would have turned out better. By the grace of God he redeemed me and sent me a godly wonderful loving patient man I can’t ask for more.
“…it left me yearning for love in all the wrong places.”
I am grateful today that my parents really lived the “unconditional positive regard” approach. They cared about school performance in a sense; they were educators themselves. But they do not seem to have had a strong agenda for our future “success.” I think their honest perception of their job was to equip their kids for our own paths.
Thank you, Barbara.
I like this, it would make me feel less responsible for their choices, but what if their path scares you?
I once asked ten parents who seemed to have great high school students and great relationships with them, “What is the key?”. While they were a diverse group, they all said the same thing: stay connected, no matter what it takes, stay connected and keep a relationship.
As a high school principal I have watched many high school students and parents. This advice is timeless and valuable. It works.
Thank you, Joe, for sharing this. Very encouraged by this.
Blessings on your work as a principal.
The most helpful advice given to me: my goal as the parent of a teen was not to get them to obey ME, but to point them toward mature, discerning adulthood. This helped define which mountains were worth dying on, and framed the discussion in a more positive light. “What are Jesus’ dreams for you?” vs. “What will make your mother happy?”
And, I agree with Kim. Really listen and never betray their trust so they will know you are safe.
i love the idea of knowing that our ultimate purpose as parents is to release them and send them forth. it’s not eternal obedience but sending out.
thanks for sharing your advice – especially pertinent when they move towards adulthood.
In regards to your first question: What advice would you give Minhee and I as parents?
– I would definitely just listen and create a safe space for her – so that she can come to you with anything and know that you are still going to love her. I also would definitely make sure that she knows how precious, valued, and loved she is.
In regards to your second question: Perhaps from your days as a high schooler yourself or as a current or past parent of a high schooler, what advice would you give my daughter?
– Don’t forget who you are. You are YOU and it’s not worth trying to impress others and trying to be someone else. Be proud of who you are and remember how loved you are – not just by your parents, but by God and by your community! You ROCK!
For your next question: [For my daughter and others] What was the best and worst thing about the high school experience for you?
-The BEST thing about high school was knowing that I was capable of so many things and that I could really excel at things. I tried a lot of different and new activities, clubs, etc.
-The WORST thing about high school was the whole trying to fit in and be popular. It’s tough to be comfortable in your skin, but go back to discovering you and where you feel good about yourself. It’s really not worth it and at the end of the day, high school is always something that feels like it was a million years ago – esp when you head out to college or graduate high school.
Final question: Faith. What advice would you give us – parents and student – to remain steadfast and grow in our faith as followers of Christ.
– Keep praying – even when it’s hard. Keep coming back to God and remember His word – memorize verses, listen to lots of worship and praise music and hymns. It will help so much later down the road and also help you to make those tough decisions. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and really explore your faith – listen to the lifestories of others and experience God’s grace like crazy. 🙂
Thanks for this post and your other ones – it truly inspires me to be a better parent that tries hard to remember that I am His steward for my child’s life. Her life is His as much as my life is His. Thanks again for the reminders and for sharing this part of your life.
Thank you. You’ve shared a lot from different perspectives and I appreciate them. I’m going to soak it in and share this with all our kids.
Its OK to ask questions, some responses us as parents aren’t going to like to hear, but I was a parent who would rather know in order first to pray and help process through the consequences, good or bad. I found 1 common statement every time we (my daughter and I) got into a discussion we didn’t agree on and that was “your just the parent who don’t know or understand anything.” Once I embraced this, I used it to my advantage and instead of her reminding me, I started to Redmond her and it became easier to talk and grow together and built that safe place for her to unload everything. Yes everything. Also don’t think they need you to fix everything, just ask what do you wasn’t me to do? If the idk comes offer some ideas and it will all work, you will either agree on the action or non action. This is a time to make choices and learn form them mistakes before leaving the nest into the great big world.
Hope this helps. God bless you.
It’s humbling to be reminded that I don’t know everything. I know that but sometimes, I needed to be reminded again that I really don’t know everything.
For Jubilee: I’ve been out of highschool since 2005, so I’m pretty sure high school culture has changed a lot since then. In retrospect, I wish I 1.) Didn’t compare myself to others. The pressure to study harder, dress to impress, which social groups to join or belong to, relationship statuses, etc. stemmed a lot from comparing myself to others. It also was miserable at times and a lot of unnecessary stress and a beat up of my own self confidence. 2.) I joined everything and made an effort to make the most of high school. I hardly run into people that love high school as much as I do, but I think I loved high school because I made it a 2nd home. Not that I’m encouraging pure devotion to school alone, but I encourage people to really put themselves out there. Be willing to try out anything and every kind of club, sports, classes, and be willing to make mistakes and fail at things. Its surprising to see who you meet through out all the things you get involved in. Some of those times where I made an effort to stick myself out there, those were also some of the sweetest times of getting to know people, laughing, and even sharing about my faith.
Thank you for taking the time to write this. I will share this with my daughter and I know that this will be helpful to others who read through the comments.
Wow. I remember a time when you were so little…!
Pastor Eugene, After a long day of much anxiety , praying, more Anxiety when our sweet ,innocent 17 year old daughter Allysa says ” I got asked out by a guy today.” as soon as she hopped in the car after her 1st day as a Senior in her new High School. I thought “It starts!” Gulp!!! So more praying, more anxiety, a couple hours later Braden called from getting some fishing time in after school and said ” I have a cottonmouth snake caught in my minnow trap. What should I do? How do I get it out of there?” More anxiety. I replied, “You don’t. You leave it alone and come home.” this was one of those days that I wanted to put both my kids back in the womb (ouch!) where they would be safe from poisonous snakes and 18 year old hormonally charged boys. So your words of encouragement and wisdom tonight really gave me comfort that I wasn’t the only parent out there who was wishing time would slow down and that I would have listened better to all those people who told me to enjoy the time while they were little because it goes by so fast. I needed the reminder that our job is to eventually let go. And let God. Thanks! God bless from D.C. 🙂
We miss you guys at Quest.
Thanks for this comment. Glad that the post encouraged you guys. I’m encouraged by you and your family as you remain steadfast in your love for one another and for God.
When the time comes and guys ask you out for a date always tell them that they have to ask your dad first. If you don’t like them, tell dad. If you are not ready, dad will tell them. If dad does not approve you are rescued from needless heartache so you can have the best. If dad and mom agree on the guy, dad will warn the young man, “Whatever you do to my daughter I will do too you.” Stay pure and love Jesus first and foremost.
Advice for high school parenting: Be more present than you think you need to be. Empathy. Unconditional love. Love and Logic parenting with ‘the punishment fits the crime’ attitude. And don’t even try to be their friend. That comes when they turn 22 years old.
I think your good at this….. PRAY. That’s what I’m doing anyways.
At all cost, maintain the relationship. No matter the situation; your window to share and guide them will reappear.
Make time for your and Minhee’s relationship ~ maybe a date night once a week, or walk the dog together before bedtime.
You have been very busy with your career and child raising, and that continues. But nurturing the relationship between the two of you is important too. You might consider a trip away together once every year or two. The greatest thing you can do for your children is to love one another. And some day – soon – you two will be alone again.
Nurture the relationship now.
This is golden advice.
i may not be a parent, but now at 22 and with my family being separated all over the world, i realize how much i missed out on all those nights i stayed late at school or work. time flies in every sense of the word…
but one thing through this last year, PE, this year that has been a brutal one for me and for my family, one thing i want more than almost anything is for my parents to sit down and listen to me. not in a “teen drama i want attention” kind of way. just in a way that shows they respect and recognize that my opinion, my feelings, my heart, are real and are no longer just silly thoughts of a child.
i know that J, T, and J are much younger than i am, but especially in the midst of hardship, having both parents make the time to try and listen to and understand what’s in your heart will make a huge difference at any age.
cheers PE, and love.
Thanks Anthony for this. Thanks for sharing.
One just entered HS. The other just moved out and into his college apartment. I was harder than we imagined. I still get out four plates for dinner – one too many. I find our son’s bedroom light on because my husband is standing in there wondering where time went and missing our son. We are overjoyed for both of our boys and, like you, know this is our purpose – to equip and release. A few things we’ve learned:
– You will have regrets and wish you could get time back. Don’t spend too much energy in these places – they yield nothing positive.
– Plan in unplanned time. Spend a large quantity of time with your kids (quality time is a myth.) You have to be present for the magic to happen – for them to open up and allow a glimpse into the deeper things happening in their hearts and minds.
– Practice not looking surprised. So, if/when a surprising or shocking comment comes, they can’t tell they caught you off guard.
– Welcome their friends into your home. Always make room for another kid and their families and friends at your table. Make huge vats of food.
– Love. You can’t do it perfectly, but you can do it genuinely. Say you love them often, kiss and hug them even if they act like it bugs them. Some day it won’t.
– Pray big prayers – not just for your kids’ safety and fulfillment but ask God for outrageous things for your kids’ hearts, minds, future.
This needs to be a post in itself. Wise. Honest. Real. God honoring. Loving.
Thank you for sharing your wisdom and experience.
When my brother was in high school, my dad used to pull him out of school once in a while (maybe twice a year) and they would spend the whole day doing something like driving to Shenandoah Valley. Not what a typical Asian grade-conscious dad would do! Since my brother wasn’t the type to tell my parents all the ins and outs of each day, this was a way for my father to give him the time and space to connect in a meaningful way. Come to think of it, it probably worked better with my father’s schedule since as a pastor his weekends were busy with church.
I used to do this when the kids were younger and then got ruffled by the pressure of elevated expectations and academics.
I should do this again.
One thing I’ve decided to do is to have my oldest daughter travel with me every now and then to speaking engagements to spend that time together.
Great advice by all. Listen, be present and engaged, be slow to anger on the occasions that they rebel or make poor choices, stand firm in Christ, and pray for them all the time. Pray with them when they are struggling, and when they are not.
For Jubilee (what a delightful name), don’t be a follower except to Christ. Find friends that are healthy, safe, and who build you up and let you be Jubilee, not what they think you should be. You likewise, be a builder upper and let Christ shine through you. Talk to your parents and let them love on you and guide you. Respect yourself and don’t be drawn to people who disrespect you. Prayers for you Jubilee.
It is so great that you are soliciting parenting advice – really, really wonderful. Not a lot of parents are secure enough to do that. I have been out of high school for 10 years and I am still recovering – it somehow got into me back then that “doing everything as unto the Lord” and being able to “do all things in Christ” meant always doing more, trying harder, excelling. I wish my parents had been better about accepting my failures, even letting me be a little bad sometimes…i.e. missing school so I could just. please. sleep. Take that as you will; I guess I am saying that you will probably have to walk your daughter through that adolescent “all or nothing” mentality into a more mature, gracious, complexity-embracing attitude towards herself.
Thanks for this.
I get what you’re saying.
Two immediate thoughts came to mind as I read your post, Eugene:
“The days are long, but the years are short.” So many people told us the same as they have told you, “Enjoy.” “Slow down.” “It goes so fast.” And you know what? It did. Our girls are now grown (21 and 24) and living out God’s calling on their lives. We raised them, not only with the intention of letting them go, but with the intention of sending them out to fulfill His purpose for their lives.
And that leads me to my second thought:
Love them. Invest in them. Spend time with them. Don’t be afraid of (or worse yet, write off) the teenage years. They can be (and were, for us) some of the sweetest years in the life of a family. These two daughters are amazing people that God brought into our lives to raise for Him. Because we had invested in our relationship with them – listening, honoring, disciplining, teaching, loving, guiding them – when they were young, we just continued in that pattern through their teenage years and enjoyed them! Now we are learning to be parents of young adults. We continue to seek God for wisdom and direction in how to love, honor, respond (or not!), guide and respect them as they are making adult decisions.
God bless you as you begin this new season in your family.
Thank you for this.
“The days are long, but the years are short” is what I’ve been feeling for so long but didn’t quite know how to articulate.
This turned out to be long – sorry. The biggest thing is to listen. Find out if someone’s happy or disappointed with a result before congratulating them or condoling with them. Keep track of what is important to them (whether you think it should be or not) and treat their emotions/responses with respect. Reactions to stuff can go all over the map when you get tired/hungry/frustrated/hormones/growth-spurt/confusion all squashed together, and that’s okay. Listen, listen, keep listening, and repeat (brief) wise counsel during calm times even when it’s awkward.
1. It was really useful to me as a teenager, a couple of times, to be able to blame my older sister when I was uncomfortable with something (i.e. “no thanks, my sister would *kill* me if I got a ride home with a guy I’d only just met”). A blanket “I do not want you to do anything you think isn’t smart or anything that makes you uncomfortable, and you can blame me for it if you need to blame someone” can work wonders sometimes. It’s also great to become better able to stand up for yourself, but for those “I can’t quite articulate what I’m uncomfortable with about this, but since I’m uncomfortable, I’m pretty sure my parents wouldn’t approve” situations, it’s sometimes easiest to have permission to pass the buck. 🙂
2. It *would have* been really useful to me as a teenager to have a “get home free” card; if my parents had said “any time, day or night, you’re uncomfortable in a situation for any reason, call us and we’ll pick you up”, that would have come in handy more than once.
3. As a high-schooler, it was incredibly useful to me (again with the peer-pressure thing) to know that this is not the world; high school politics/popularity/reputation/coolness will generally not matter after high school. Generational friendships were important to this, as were glimpses into non-high-school worlds. Later, Running Start is awesome for this, by the way – community college is not a cool-ocracy the way that high school and the way that college dorms can be.
4. Similarly to not letting “cool” have too much weight, don’t let being “nice” hold you captive in any way. “Nice” is not a reason to do whatever other people want you to. Treating people with respect and love and truth, absolutely. Letting them convince you to do things you’re uncomfortable with? No, always no. If you’re uncomfortable with something and anyone tries to flatter you into it or to use “oh, be nice” or “don’t be a prude” or “don’t be a bitch” or “but you did it before” or “but you did it for (other friend)”, Shut Them Down. I’ve been tricked by *all* of those before, and, when I felt iffy about things, it was, I think, always a trap of some kind. Your conscience and your common sense and your intuition need to win. Talk with older people you trust or with good friends (the kind who value your well-being!) about things to get more insight into situations, but really do listen to your gut if something feels “off”, and don’t be afraid to back out of something or decide you’re no longer comfortable with something, even if it inconveniences other people or embarrasses you.
5. Online stuff stays online pretty much forever. Photos are forever, and basically uncontrollable. You will almost certainly not care much in 10 years about a photo of you with messed-up hair and a lot of acne, or a photo of you in a chicken suit and a fake mustache (in fact, you may kind of love that photo), but just stay away from deliberately “sexy” photos (esp. the not-entirely-clothed versions thereof). So Not Worth It. Yes, culturally, we’re told that sexiness is a measure of our worth. Yes, it’s hard to resist measuring ourselves and trying to measure up. But resist as far as you can – you are more than that, your identity is founded elsewhere, and the more your identity is founded on a Rock, the more lasting everything is. And, um, they can be really embarrassing if they get in the wrong hands either now or later.
6. Going along with that, being who you really are and becoming who you really want to be (who God wants you to be) will be the best long-term friendship/life/everything things – not current-friend-count or who-is-most-popular or who-is-asked-out-most-in-high-school or follower-lists or highest-grades. Aim high in character, in long-term life, not in sandcastles, and it’ll hurt less when the sandcastles inevitably take damage in storms (it will still hurt, sometimes a lot, but *less* than if the sandcastle is highest in your heart).
7. This is all compatible with having a *lot* of fun. Seriously, you will have *so much* more fun in high school if you’re not being fake/afraid/uncomfortable. I mean uncomfortable in a bad way; there’s “I’m going off the high diving board for the first time” or “I’m auditioning for something” uncomfortable, and then there’s “this is a bad idea” uncomfortable – get to know the difference and aim to *do* the former sort of things and always avoid the latter sort of things! Test things – hold fast to what is good.
Wow. Thanks for taking the time to lend your advice, wisdom, perspective, and experience.
Gonna definitely ask my daughter (and all our kids) to read this.
Let me see..I think you asked for advice. That I can’t do because my girls are just four. Then I think you asked if we had any advice for her as we look back on our own high school years.
Yes I do have suggestions:
1) Choose your friends wisely, some of them you will have for the rest of your life.
2) Hang out with the smart people- they’ll remind you when the quizes & tests are coming and help you keep on track.
3) Ignore the clicks, cheerleaders, the surfers, the slackers, brainiacs. Be yourself. Choose people with good habits & attitudes and who support you and your goals.
4) Take advantage of all the opportunities to check out different things like: Journalism for the school paper, photography for the yearbook, any sport you are curious about, cheerleading if it looks like fun to you, I know these days there are even more options but I guess the idea is don’t play it safe be a joiner. Now is the time to try a little of all subjects, float through different groups and learn even more about yourself.
5) Don’t fret the kids who don’t say Hi.They are even more insecure than you
One of the dumbest things I ever did in my HS years was too make a social strategy. I blew off my friends from grammar school becuase I thought they weren’t cool and I tried to ingratiate my self into a couple differnet groups. My choice was painful and awkward over and over again. I did make some new friends but I dissed some old ones. I did it because I wanted to be cool. Today the group I left behind have been lifelong friends. They were smart women with good habits. I still wonnder how the tragectory of my life would have been different if I had concentrated more on my subjects and the friends I came into school with rather than what people thought of me and trying to ingratiate myself with people who I thought were popular or who I thouht my mother would want me to know.
The irony is by senior year I was disgusted with the whole project and started hanging out with a couple girls in the younger grades. Somehow by forgetting about it and by just being myself all of the sudden I became more interesting to the very people I had been persuing. Goofy. That was a lesson.
Not sure what the advice is in that last bit but there you go.
Thanks for asking!
God bless you and your family as you go into this defining time.
Cool post, Eugene, and good reminder about the role of parenting and stewarding that. Just read it now although its from a few weeks ago..
We obviously don’t have parenting experience yet with a HS student, but here is what I most remember from my own ups and downs at that age:
– my friends and my sense of who got to help shape me made a big, lasting impact: groups like church friends, music friends, smart friends, cool friends – as independent as I was, it still mattered who thought I was ok and who I let speak into my life. Hanging around people that had hugely different goals in life or were selfish or did semi-crazy behavior never was worth it later on. Sometimes it took me a while to recognize when to choose who I let shape me, sometimes it was really obvious.
– my parents’ best posture was being there no matter what, unconditional cheerleading, and holding certain priority rules steady – but not jumping into everything. Friends who had tons of rules and expectations from parents (not from themselves), always seemed to rebel in some way – internally or externally.
– other adults were also key in my life during HS – youth pastors camp counselors, choir director, aunt, other friends’ moms, etc – these adults could often say things that I would hear in a way my own parents couldn’t muster. I think a great gift from parents is other adult friendships for older kids -i.e. church community, family – whoever – healthy and loving adults that loved me and encouraged different parts of me or helped balance out the missing spots that every family has.
– I started my volunteering and leadership experience in earnest during these years, and see lots of ways that my life trajectory was rooted here. Many times I was encouraged or called into doing work throughout HSchool that let me explore who I was meant to be, even when it sometimes looked different then my family, my church, my people, etc. I think helping kids truly be who God gifted them to be as they mature and grow into their own skin is really important. I wasn’t that overly programmed in HS, but explored and got involved in lots of stuff that helped my life not just be about me, grades, popularity, etc. – and that influenced all the other areas of my life too. I think sometimes girls especially need encouragement to see themselves in certain ways, or to step up, speak out, etc – depending on their personality. Sharing confidence that they can do whatever they feel called to do, even if they have not done that before, can be so empowering!
Blessings to you, Minhee and your whole fam this school year :).
Don’t enter HS with an us (meaning Christian) v. them (nonChristian) mindset, but rather the mindset of Christ as he entered our world. He came to love those undeserving of love. He came to be a friend to the friendless. Your HS experience will be a blessing to you and those around you if you remember those 2 things.
Hi all. As a parent whose youngest child just went off to college, yes indeed this article hits home!! My advice, both to kids and parents in high school–Stay open-minded. Parents–your teens will be exposed to things, good and bad, that we never even thought about when we were their age. It doesn’t mean they’re in with a bad crowd. It just means they exist in a glorious new world. Teens–have patience with your parents. They’re trying to keep up. Really they are. Believe it or not, they were young and cool not that long ago. Blessings!!!
Listen and let them talk, even if it is for a very long time. They’ll get to the point eventually and you’ll be glad the conversation was with you. Look them in the eye. Validate them. Love them and show it. Travel and experience things with them often during these last years at home. Encourage them in new pursuits. Pay attention to where they truly shine and help them to see it. They will soon have to choose their life pursuits…encouragement helps and clarifies! Let them go out on their own and do their thing, with guidance, love and boundaries…but give them a little more space and time each time. Agree to disagree sometimes. It’s an adult thing to do. And always always always say I love you.
While I don’t have the time or mental energy to pen my thoughts in relation to your questions, I wanted you to know that today this spoke to me. As a mom of a 5 year old girl and an 8 week old, I’m struggling to enjoy the moments and feel so guilty that I’m not more appreciative at times of the chance to be home during this season with both my girls. Thanks for giving words to help me refocus and for helping me to extend grace yet again to myself to be in the small minutes of each day. It really does go by quickly, even when the days are long.
I love this! Resonating with me as our youngest starts Kindergarten tomorrow. Thank you!
A friend of mine once admitted to his daughter, after they’d gotten in a big argument, how scared he was now that she was twelve. “I’ve never been a dad to a 12-yr-old before and I don’t know yet how to do it.” She simply (and very wisely) said “it’s okay, I’ve never been 12 before.”
Remember, you’re all learning how to do this being-a-high-schooler and being-the-parent-of-a-high-schooler thing. Learn together.
And also, public high school is great!! It shaped and informed my faith in amazing ways that I still hold onto today, but only because I learned from the peers around me but relied on the wise counsel of mentors and parents!
Just remember that the 4 years in high school are a very tiny blip in your life’s timeline. I remember thinking a bad grade or boy not liking me or girls being mean was the “end of the world” and life would always feel that bad. It didn’t and all that stuff fades away. I wish I’d let those things shape and strengthen my relationship with God instead of using them as an excuse to act out. Remember, it is possible to make life altering decisions (even in high school) that are very difficult to come back from. God can use all of it for His glory, but His path tends to be the easier way.
I don’t have kids but I can share perspective on two questions:
1. Perhaps from your days as a high schooler yourself or as a current or past parent of a high schooler, what advice would you give my daughter? — Remembering back I wished that my parents would of taught me the different professions out in the world and the classes in high school that would lead me to my college education and ultimate professional goal. I was the oldest so I had to play “way-finder”. I look back and I really had no clue how important high school classes really were. I was blessed in the end and am practicing my passion today. (Jesus loves me.) I guess I wished my parents would of talked to me more about professions in the world and then me choose one or two and then they sat with me and my guidance counselor and we made my future path/ plan together. Documented it as a team. & Gave me positive reinforcement for each mark I completed. This will help her understand how to plan her future roadmaps as well.
2.[For my daughter and others] What was the best and worst thing about the high school experience for you? — I was made fun of a lot and beat up by the other girls. I am not bad looking. Your daughter is beautiful as well. If she comes home and says that I am being bullied, jealousy could be a reason at hand. Teach her about jealousy and why the sin causes so much harm (pain) to others. Also we all know the corruptors are roaming the halls. Just let her know “being cool” isn’t actually worth it or all that “fun”. Try and give her space and not shelter her too much, girls tend to rebel in high school. Showing her pictures/ articles of older high schoolers in the world and i.e. what drugs have done to their image and all of the credit that they have to regain for the outer world (if they choose to) might do it. Don’t just say, “no.” Don’t just say it, show it. I didn’t know my consequences until they had to be paid. Would of been nice to “see” it prior to. Being a good girl can also cause bullying but show her how much farther in the world she will go being that good girl, and perhaps where her bullier will go (most like the bullier is already bad news).
-Wishing it all well.
I am 34 and have a girl toddler and have been married for 4 years and grew up an only child from an interracial marriage (Chinese Caucasian – mom Asian). This Is to give context to my advice.
1. Somehow learn to be a consultant rather than a manager.
2. Know your parents are going through a role change (from response above), give grace but do state your needs. Give yourself grace to make mistakes (social mainly in high school). Mistakes are how we grow.
3. Best- the novelty of realizing your world in becoming a Bigger and bigger place as there is more interaction with people older than you (sophomores to seniors). Previously in middle school it seemed kids stayed with their own age group. Feelings are experienced in greater magnitude (maybe revisiting toddler years? But we don’t remember those :). That means higher highs and lower lows.
Worst- the feelings thing is great when good feelings are felt, but opposite the other way (aka shame and ridicule etc).
4. Identify people that Inspire your faith and awe of God and dedicate yourself to figuring out why they have this impact on you. Begin to incorporate aspects of their practices in your life where they resonate with you.