Where did this school year go?
If you’re a parent of a high school student, this time of year can be filled with lots of conflicting feelings.
So you look back at the school year that’s just ended and ask yourself:
• Did my child apply himself?
• What about the grades?
• Have I been too busy to make sure he did his best?
• What about his future?
• Is he prepared, or does he seem more anxious and uncertain?
There are countless opinions on what “The Plan” for your child should be: SAT prep, college entrance exam prep, AP classes to ensure he has an “edge” in the competition. Or what about technical or conservatory training?
What do you do?
Overwhelm sets in.
This is the perfect time to connect with him — to lovingly, and genuinely, communicate.
Set a time, where there are no distractions.
Ask him how he feels.
Ask him what he wants.
You must detach from any of your expectations for him, and your agenda . . . in order to make this talk be as encouraging, and productive, as possible.
If he begins to tell you what his guidance counselor or teachers have suggested, tell him, “That’s great. But I just want to hear what you’re thinking and feeling.”
If he says that he just doesn’t KNOW what he wants . . . ask him,
“So what do you love to do?”
This talk together isn’t about going to college, or not going to college.
It’s about what really makes your child feel good.
What’s he passionate about?
On what subjects would he spend hours Googling?
When you were in high school, it’s likely that no one asked you what made your heart sing, and what you were interested in — and loved to do — above all else.
It may be challenging for him to identify, probably because most teens think through and censor their responses, frequently answering what they think adults want to hear.
Be patient. When he can put his finger on something he’s excited about, you’ll know by the way you feel. You’ll feel his enthusiasm.
If he keeps saying, “I don’t know,” encourage him to find out what makes him feel good. To do some soul-searching exploration.
So what if he says, “Well, I love to ride my bike”?
One response from you might be, “OK, good. But you can’t have a career and pay your bills riding a bike.” Pretty discouraging, right?
Instead, what if you (being open-minded) replied, “Wow! How about if you explore all the ways you could create a livelihood around riding your bike.”
Help inspire his creative juices to flow by starting out with, “Hmm. I know you’re great at online research. I wonder how people get into the bike manufacturing industry. Or owning/managing a bike shop. Or what’s involved in leading, or getting involved in, bike tours?”
He could make a list.
You can offer your help.
You — and he — are only limited by an unwillingness to be creative.
Once initiated, this brainstorming can be fun!
Also, ask him to determine the type of training or degree program required for anything he comes up with.
A new plan just might be formulating.
But no matter what, this conversation — this connection — has been an investment in your relationship.
He’s been feeling the stress and uncertainty. Right now he needs closeness and understanding from you.
He wants to feel encouraged. He wants your support.
Watch what happens when he identifies something he really loves to do, engages in a solid plan, and proceeds confidently forward (with your encouragement).
This is what you want as a parent: your child understanding who he is, and being excited about it.
And to think it started by you just asking the question,
“What do you love to do?”
. . . and then taking the time to listen and encourage.
Then, after you’ve gone through this process with your child, don’t forget to come back and report your observations, and your successes, in the comment section below! We can’t wait to hear how it went!
It’s (really!) all about the relationship.