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Challenge: It's Back to School: Share Your Advice

For the Parents Who Have No Idea What to Expect for Your Kid Starting High School

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One thing is for sure, you're not alone. I have a daughter who is starting high school and to be quite honest, I am not sure what to expect.

Looking back at my own adolescence, I thought I knew everything back then. When in reality, I knew so little and was just beginning to learn about the world and experiencing more independence.

While the times have changed, music has definitely changed (hip hop is dead), kids are wearing the same styles we wore and are now considered cool again. In reality, they are facing the same challenges we faced as teens but, with technology thrown in.

While my daughter's earbuds are the bane of my existence, her ever-so-subtle sighs, eye rolls, and groans don't go unnoticed. But, I know that under all that is a good kid. A kid who is trying to figure out her role in life and what she is going to do with it.

While I can't give anyone advice about what to expect in high school, I can definitely tell you how I am handling it. Having gone through elementary school with one daughter and my other daughter still in elementary, I'm doing what I know.

After all, it's a pretty sizable transition that our kids face when entering high school. There's really no way to prepare your teen but, we can definitely try to help them, right?

Whenever a chance comes up to insert a little nugget of wisdom, I do. Even if it's met with a groan or eye roll. It always starts with a "Mandatory parenting PSA, Gabby..." and she laughs sometimes but, most times it's a groan but, I know she listens. Here are a few things that I've done over the years that have helped my girls find their own. Maybe with me as the little voice in their head.

Making Friends

This is a realm that you really no longer have a say in anymore. For kids in high school, you can imagine them going from a little pond where they may have ruled the roost to an ocean that is a whole new territory.

You may find them changing their style, way of speaking, the music they listen to, etc. Especially as they make new friends or try to fit in. You just have to let them be. Of course, unless it's leading to something that can be hurtful. I know it's hard to not interfere but, they need to learn how to work out friendships and relationships on their own. We just got to be there if they need the support or advice.

Romantic Relationships

When it comes to this topic, this is something that we've discussed for many years prior to entering high school. I share what I believe in and my values and even if they're not always welcomed or well-received, I know that they listen.

I grew up in a home where we didn't discuss these things. It is the reason why I choose to openly discuss them with my kids. By doing this, it makes them comfortable to possibly share with you or ask questions. If you aren't comfortable talking about sex or relationships with your child, there are sources out there to help. You can give them a sex-ed book and let them lead with questions. You want them to construct a view of a healthy relationship from you, rather than what they may see online or hear through friends.

The biggest thing to discuss is safety. Like the dangers of STI's, the possibility of getting pregnant, learning consent and how important it is, and how drugs or alcohol can influence your decisions.

Also, the emotional side of things is important to discuss too. Acceptance of sexual orientation is a topic to bring up too. Whether it is your child or someone else's.

Drugs and Alcohol

Simply telling teenagers not to do drugs or drink isn't helpful. Personally, I definitely think that they shouldn't. I've always discussed the pitfalls and consequences that she could face if she chooses to do so.

For example, the consequences of doing it on school property, drinking and driving, or even the trouble I'd be in if I allowed it in our home. There are legal consequences to face.

We also discuss safety. Especially since we can't control every decision. Like the effect alcohol has on different people. Particularly, in their size. The proof and strength of beer and liquor, and how it differs. The most important thing we have discussed is that she ever feels uncomfortable, to use our secret text code and I will be there to pick her up, no questions asked. Unless of course, she wants to share.

Digital Footprint

This is one that I have drilled a lot. I grew up with a childhood without technology but, the end of my teenage years came the emergence of it. Unlike our kids, who do not know a world without tech. You may wonder if your kid is ready for a phone but, it differs with every child. You know your child best. Once you've decided that they are, the discussion of their digital footprint is so important.

The internet is forever.

It takes a millisecond to snap a screenshot of something that can affect their whole life. So, I've always gone through the rules of social media and texting. We've talked about sexting and how it can spread and the legal implications too. In a small way, they need to realize that one mistake can be found online years later when they are applying for school or a job. That goes for not only pictures but, what they say online can always come back to bite them.

My rule: Always be kind and if you can't say something in public or to someone's face, you shouldn't be posting it online.

As a parent, you also have to be prepared to support them if it does happen. So, our rule of thumb is never to post anything that is personal. Especially when it comes to their bodies, and to reach out if they are getting these requests. Also, cyberbullying is a huge topic on its own but, so important to discuss. Whether they're on the receiving end or actively doing it to someone else. You have to be open to that idea and be willing to step in.

I am no expert. I can only offer my experience with my own children. The biggest piece of advice I can give to any parent is to have an open relationship. Always have the door open for discussion, listen, and give advice when asked and whenever you have a chance.

They listen.

Do you have a child going to high school? Did you already pass this stage?

How did you/do you plan to survive high school as a parent?

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