As we all prepare for the new academic year, parents of high school kids face one of the most difficult periods of their lives as they guide teenagers through secondary school education — a period which can be trying, angry, tearful and very explosive.
As parents we cloister our kids and guide them through their early years of life and education, but once our kids hit high school, we expect them to take a more adult view of their learning. At the same time, we have only a rudimentary understanding of what the education system expects of them (at least initially) and compounding that, we have little understanding of the high school subjects our kids are being exposed to. Unlike primary school where reading, spelling, and maths were pretty easy, high school subjects are increasingly complex and often go beyond our own ability to provide our kids with advice and assistance. Because of this we consciously — or subconsciously — abrogate our responsibility as parents. We kind of hope high schools and teachers can pick up the slack and we hand over our responsibilities of our kids’ education to the ‘system’ – and that’s not good for our kids, and what is not good for our kids is not good for us.
All this occurs when our kids really need us the most. Not only must they deal with schools, teachers and education, the hormonal changes they are going through puts even further pressure on them.
Add to the mix issues over school friendships, boyfriend/girlfriend liaisons, the pressure of homework, bullying issues and pressure brought on by the increasing speed of computer and internet technologies — all of this can build to the ‘perfect storm’ affecting your child’s sense of self worth and identity. Anger and frustration boils over and parents are often in the firing line.
On the front-line of this battle, parents must take – or regain — control. As carers, it’s up to us to get our kids from the end of primary school to graduation from high school with sufficient academic ability to take on careers and other life’s challenges.
While it might seem patently obvious, overwhelmingly parents learn about what they’ve done right (or, painfully, what they’ve done wrong) during these years from the ‘school of hard knocks’ – and in that ‘school’, there are few, if any, text-books.
As parents of two kids who have gone through this, we decided to cast a light on the process to give some advice to other parents who are at the beginning of the high school path, help for those who maybe part way through it — and solace to ‘shell-shocked’ parents whose kids may have recently graduated. In these often grinding, unforgiving years, we believe the better-armed you are to make strategic decisions now will help you better understand and help your kids, and give you an opportunity to take a deep breath and soldier on knowing you are not alone.
We hope you can learn from our experience. Along the way we hope we can help you survive with less angst, less stress, and with your family unit going forward more or less intact. And that’s what families are about, isn’t it?