Tips for First-Time Parents of High School Freshmen

If freshman year is tough for teens, you better believe it’s tough for parents. No longer are your biggest worries about bake sales, soccer cleats and PTA meetings. High school is a whole new experience for both your teen and you – and all the rules have changed.

That said, keep in mind that the freshman experience, as stressful as it most definitely will be (we won’t sugarcoat it), can also be a fun, exciting and successful one. Just know that while your teens will never admit it out loud, they’re depending upon you to help guide them in some ways while letting them find their own path in other ways.

It’s a fine line you’ll be walking over the next four years. So, Project SOS offers a few tips gleaned from veteran high school moms and dads.

  • Lay down the law: Be clear with your teens on what you expect of them. This is important not only when it comes to academics, but especially when it comes to the extracurricular activities like dances, Friday night football games and dates.
  • Get sneaky: Many moms swear by the carpool – and it has nothing to do with the rising costs of gas. It has to do with the fact that teens talk. A lot. Having multiple teenagers in your vehicle is a great way to keep yourself in the know about what’s going on at your kids’ school without even having to nag it out of them. Just pretend you’re not listening, and listen well! Considering that boys can be notoriously non-communicative, having at least one girl in your carpool haul can be of great value.
  • Be nosy – a little: With the troubling rise of bullying and cyber-bullying, it’s critical that you monitor your teens’ social and social media activities. This can be tough because high school is the time when your teen wants and needs to learn independence. And any inkling that you’re butting into their private business or judging their friends will cause your teen to shut down communication with you fast. Pay attention to changes in their mood, behavior or confidence level and talk with them if you spot any red flags. In the car alone is a great way to have tough talks with your teens because limited eye contact allows for maximum honesty.
  • Keep your fridge and pantry stocked with healthy snacks: It’ll keep your teen charged up during homework time. And it’ll make your home a favorite place for the local kids to hang out – allowing you more opportunity to stealthily keep tabs on your teen’s school and social goings-on.
  • Lighten up: Remember that high school is the time you want your teens to screw up. They’re still in your home where you’re better able to help and hug them as they learn to navigate the sometimes treacherous waters. Have faith. They’ll figure it out with the right mix of guidance and space. Just keep the lines of communication open, trust your gut and laugh with them – a lot!

If you need a little guidance yourself, you’re in luck, too. Project SOS offers a variety of books, DVDs and the Empowered Parent magazine designed to help you help your teen. Just call our office to learn more. Good luck, freshman moms and dads!

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