“High School, already?!?” For middle school parents, who may be simultaneously lamenting their Tween no longer being a child, while anxious about sensing the beginning of “all things teenager”, they’re faced with seemingly complex decisions regarding high school. In my experience, many parents believe an acceptance into the “right” college and being prepared for said college, starts with choosing a high school, increasing the seeming importance of their decision, as any supposed misstep will close the gateway to any future success. At the same time, parents may also be wondering why there’s so much attention being paid to high school choices, when, “It wasn’t like this when I went to high school. I just went to the next school in my neighborhood.” In the era of focused attention on choosing the “right” high school, what is a middle school parent to do?
One, be prepared for a serious lobbying effort on the part of your Tween to choose one school over the other (sometimes loudly, almost screamingly or with a door slam for emphasis), and usually predicated on which school appeals most to his/her friends–a distinction that can fluctuate daily (if not hourly). Two, do your own research on high schools; asking focused questions and carefully choosing your sources of information, so you can factually counter any assertions by your tween/teen. So, then, you can make informed decisions together. First, start with a brainstorm what high school experience your kid actually wants AND a separate brainstorm of what you want for your kid. Dream a little. Then, work toward a consensus through identifying particular high schools that will nurture that vision.
Incrementally shifting the parent-child communication dynamic can help in the long term, as many of high school Senior clients shared that working with their parents to choose a high school helped them prepare for the more difficult choice of choosing a college. Also, your tween/teen gets a chance to express their own opinion and gain confidence in his/her voice. Plus, parents get a chance to experience the outcome of their parenting, as their children are growing into independent minded, intelligent beings, who are gaining confidence in themselves. Of course, along the way, you can install weather stripping on interior doors to help muffle the sound of a slam, as you walk along the road to consensus.
Photo credit: CNN Money