[N]othing marks time like having kids. One day you are teaching them to ride a bike. Then you blink and they are 14 years old starting 9th grade. I am fortunate to live in a district that actually still has 9th graders in middle or junior high school. However, 9th grade actually is the beginning of high school. So with that in mind, I am planning and reviewing the most important talks I want to have with my soon-to-be high schooler, Caitlyn.
Your SUCCESSFUL Option. If you watch the news and you see an arrested teen caught with drugs, a drunk teen being put into a police car, or a tearful conversation about teen pregnancy, the conversation most likely starts with… “I had these friends.” Teens don’t realize that the high school friends they pick, determine so much of their success in life. Friends seem to influence both good and bad lifelong habits for our kids. As parents we need to teach, model, and be very involved in our kids’ selection of friends.
Truth & Purity Offers the Best FUTURE Option. You’ve long since had the talk about the birds and the bees (that started back near the end of elementary school), but this more direct in your face talk about what is and isn’t acceptable needs to be reviewed. Thanks to the secular media influence, kids learn earlier and earlier about sex and more than 50% of them are already engaged in the practice (see my previous post). Now is the time to talk seriously about prevention, STDs, and the true purpose of dating.
[tweet “I never dreamed my phone would ring with businesses wanting to do social media background checks.”]
Clean Broadcasting is a LONG Term Option. Four years ago when I started a social media web company, I never dreamed my phone would ring with businesses wanting to do social media background checks. Read that line again. Parents, what our kids post, blog, tweet, and pin up on social media during their adolescence could come back to haunt them. Worse than just what your kids might do though are pictures posted and tagged by other people. Those can mean the difference of Johnny getting that job out of college or not. Teens don’t realize that social media is real and long lasting and a place where reputations can be destroyed in moments.
Good Grades Give You MORE Options. The first nine years of school has been nothing more than a dress rehearsal for their high school GPA. Remember colleges will look at all four years of grades and that includes their 9th grade year. In addition to grades, now is the time to start taking the right classes for college. “Office Aid” may sound appealing to a teen, but “AP History” may give them college credit and save you thousands of dollars in college costs later.
Undecided Major is NOT an Option. When I started college 25 years ago, the number of friends that majored in “Undecided” was huge. We were told that a degree in anything would work and tons of my friends graduated with a degree in “Interdisciplinary Studies.” That was fine when 18 hours cost $565 (my real semester cost), but today a college semester can set you back to the tune of $7,500 a year at a state school. That’s a lot of money to be “undecided.” Furthermore, with high schools offering “Advanced Placement” and “International Baccalaureate” courses, majors need to be decided by 10th grade.
Teen God Talk:
Jesus is the ONLY Option. The goal of parenting is to rear children who are healthy, wealthy, and wise who will leave and become self-sufficient contributors to our society. So many parents leave the most important decision their children will ever make to chance, saying “I just want my kids to find God on their own.” Kids must come to grips with who Jesus is early in life. A faith decision made before high school will last a lifetime.
High school is a wonderful transition time from childhood to adulthood. These discussions on the front end will pay lifelong dividends. Pre-conversations are always easier to have than post. Many a race is won in the final lap—the high school years. Keep the pace and finish strong, because in your next blink it will all be over.
What do you want to instill in your high—schooler? What do you want your teen to learn before they finish high school?
Image by Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.