Helping parents get through the high school years


Children must pass through several stages on their road to becoming adults including adolescence (ages 13 to 18). Parents, you are not alone! It seems like everyone, even teachers and neighbors have problems understanding adolescents. When pressed for options, you might turn to doing and saying the same things your parents did with you. But those were other times.

You can begin to understand this age group if you look at its place in the growth sequence. Notice how it’s right next to the adult stage, the last step before being an adult. This is a time for adolescents to decide their future line of work, further education, lifestyle and life goals. One of the first things they must do is to start making their own decisions. To do this they must put a little distance between themselves and their parents. This does not mean that you stop being a parent; it means starting to let go. You should, as much as possible, let them learn from the results of their actions.

Adolescents also need to be around other adult positive role models. Your teenagers can learn from them about things like how to fix the car, getting along with others, or ideas for future jobs. Finally, don’t worry if they want to spend time alone. Adoles­cents can spend hours a day dreaming, texting, and talking on their cell phones about their present and future lives. Your mission, if you should choose to accept it, is to keep a watchful eye, lend support; be there when they need you; and stay cool. Your adolescent will have enough emotion for all of you.

Educationally, this transfers to letting your student freely explore options. Encourage challenging course selection, career and college research, academic and personal responsibility, and short-term and long-term goal setting.