Under the umbrella of its ParentEd. program, Mount Paran Christian School created a new parent education series this academic year entitled P.E.P. Talks - Parents Engaging Purposefully. These P.E.P. Talks were intentionally designed to strengthen the school's partnership with the home, in alignment with the school's mission:
“Providing academic excellence in a Christ-centered environment, Mount Paran Christian School unites with home and church to prepare servant-leaders to honor God, love others, and walk in Truth.”
The purpose of the P.E.P. Talks series was to provide helpful information to parents as they navigate different stages of their children’s lives. Three unique sessions were developed and presented for each school division, from lower school through high school. This first part of this blog series focuses on managing the challenges of the high school years.
A PARENT'S MISSION
Start children off on the way they should go and even when they are old they will not turn from it.
Jonathan Morrow in his book Building Lasting Faith in Gen Z states,
“As our post-Christian culture increasingly marginalizes Christianity, it is critical for those of us who care about the next generation not to take a business-as-usual approach to their formation. If we do nothing, they will be shaped away from [a] life with God in Christ. We have the opportunity to re-imagine what passing on our faith to the next generation looks like in this unique cultural moment. Let’s be creative, courageous, and faithful!”
This “passing on of our faith” is discipleship, and it is essential if we are to see our children leave our care and maintain a “life with God in Christ.” Discipleship — the process by which people grow in Christ through the equipping of the Holy Spirit — is something that starts in the home first. For those of us with high school students, it begins with understanding what to expect.
UNDERSTANDING THE HIGH SCHOOL YEARS
As students enter high school, it is important to remember that they are not the same. More importantly, they also do not respond in the same way to our parenting tactics. Thus, as parents, it is essential we truly get to know each of our children as individuals and how to best engage with them. It is also crucial parents keep these important points in mind about the high school years:
- As children transition from middle school to high school, their behavior will generally move from being impulsive to being more moody, self-centered, and quiet. Parents have to be more intentional to encourage their high schooler to open up and talk.
- Dating and sexuality jump to the top of high school students' priority lists, as they seek to develop independence. Make sure that, as a family, you have discussed your standards and guidelines concerning this important topic. These conversations are easier to have before the time is here.
- With the increasing workload of high school, demanding practice schedules, and an abundance of extracurricular activities, high school students' schedules reach a frantic pace. Add to that the constant barrage of social opportunities, and stress and anxiety can go through the roof. Current research shows that stress and anxiety is at an all-time high among high school students.
- Finally, it is during the early high school years that children are solidifying their sense of right and wrong as their worldview is developing.
WHAT TO DO AND HOW TO DO IT
With all of the changes taking place, what can we, as parents, do?
- We must stay ENGAGED. The temptation — and sometimes easiest thing to do — is to become a spectator as they seek independence. We must not do that! Don’t wait for them. A strong relationship with them through this time will be vital.
- We must be GROWING in our faith during this time. It will be hard to bring our children to a place in Christ that we have not first been.
- We must REMEMBER that, as parents, we are still in the best place to influence. Use it!
There are a few things that we can do to make this time a little easier.
- PRAY! This may seem obvious, but it is one of the most powerful and beneficial things we can do for our children. But don’t just pray for them, pray with them. Even when they don’t feel like. Start that habit early and do it often!
- INITIATE conversation. Don’t wait for them to start a discussion — you may be waiting a long time! Find out what their interests are and then ask them about it. And use this tip: Kids are more likely to talk in the car, or in the dark, especially about the “big” things, so leverage those times.
- CONTROL of technology will be vital. No single factor has been more influential to the development of our children than the smartphone. It has changed everything! Parents should have a plan in place that addresses everything from screen time to social media. Research shows that currently teenagers spend more than eight hours a day consuming media on their phones. Every hour can result in them becoming more vulnerable to anxiety, depressive episodes, and loneliness. Develop a policy you all agree on, and then stick with it.
- Keep the FAITH. Don’t give up! There will be tough times ahead, but the effort will be worth it.
IS IT TOO LATE?
One of the most common questions asked by parents of high school students is, “Is it too late to make changes? Have I missed my window?” It’s never too late! You are still in the best position. Just be willing to make the tough decisions. Be willing to set, or reset, clear guidelines for all things — and then stick to them.
Finally, be reminded, we are not doing this alone. God has promised that if we seek Him, even in the trenches of parenting, He will provide all we need: Wisdom. Peace. Grace. Love.
So don’t worry; He’s got this.
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Want more information about successful parenting? Plan to join us for an upcoming ParentEd. session.