Going from junior high to high school introduces a tremendous amount of change and exposure to new levels of challenges and risks. Because of this, we had a face-to-face conversation some time during the summer before entering high school with each of our girls. In the best case, the adolescent will heed some of the advice. In the worst case, they will ignore the advice but later find at least some of it to be truthful, which gives more credibility to later advice. We created a cheat sheet of issues to discuss, including the following topics:
- Peer pressure
- Penalty free ride home (see related blog post)
- Drugs and alcohol
- Boys and dating
- Sexual abuse
The tone of the discussion should be advisory rather than dictatorial, in my opinion. And you obviously will need to add notes to each category based on your standards, your parenting style and your advice. There are three objectives of this discussion:
- Show the adolescent that you, as parents, have a pretty good understanding of what they are about to go through. The reality is the generation gap these days is quite small compared to what most 40+ year old adults experienced with their parents (my personal opinion).
- Prepare the adolescent in at least a small way for the more serious issues they will face at the high school level.
- Show the adolescent that you, as parents, truly care about their well being.
After the discussion, consider giving your child a copy of the cheat sheet to read on their own. They might have been in a state of shock during the discussion or might have interest in referring to it later (probably not, but as parents we can hope). You can also hand the document to them again the summer before their sophomore year as a reminder, but probably without needing to discuss it again. You’re hoping they will glance at it and realize some of the truths that are present based on their freshman year experience. I’m happy to email you the cheat sheet we used, some of which is girl-specific. Just enter your email address immediately below and click Submit to make this request.
See my other blog posts on parenting here.