Sit-Down Conversation Prior to High School

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:

  • Grades
  • Peer pressure
  • Curfew
  • Penalty free ride home (see related blog post)
  • Drugs and alcohol
  • Boys and dating
  • Sex
  • 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:

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Father – Son/Daughter Getaways

The title says “father” only because I’m writing this post from my perspective and incorporating actual concepts I used with my daughters.  My original objective was to somehow compensate for years of job assignments that called for extensive travel.  I actually modified an idea one of my IBM bosses used with his kids to compensate for extensive business travel.  The extra bonding I was able to achieve with my daughters and the stories we both are able to tell forever have immeasurable value.  I’ve shared this idea with friends and co-workers, many of whom have adopted or modified it for their own use.  If you also like the idea, help me spread it to others.

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Sticking to the Important Stuff (Teen Years)

Especially once the kids get into high school, there will be tons of things you will see them doing wrong.  From not waking up to their alarm to the way they handle social relationships, you will find yourself wanting to just tell them exactly what to do.  But often this will just cause them to reject your directions.  And it’s generally agreed that one of the best ways to learn is by making your own mistakes.  During high school I told my daughters that I didn’t care when they woke up on school days so long as putting on makeup was the last thing they did.  If they ran out of time and had to leave for school it meant without makeup.

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Establishing Standards (if Have Multiple Kids)

One of the things we quickly realized is how easily a precedent can be set as a result of decisions made or rules put in place for the oldest child.  This is fairly obvious for anyone that grew up in a family with multiple children, but we found that we had to really step back and think about things not only from the perspective of the decision at hand, but also the possible precedent-setting value it might have for the younger siblings.  For girls, it includes things like wearing makeup, dating and allowing boys in their room.

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Once Your Teenager Gets a Car …

What a liberating freedom.  I guess I have one heads-up and a couple of pieces of advice.  The heads-up is to forget about seeing them very much after they start driving.  There will be a million reasons why they need to be somewhere else.  We had to set a “goal” of eating together as a full family 4 times per week, yet we’re sometimes lucky to make it happen 2-3 nights.  Part of this is due to the fact that a driving teen also possibly has a job, club memberships or sporting activities in addition to all the social possibilities that pull them away from home.

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Collectables – the Gift Answer for Road Warrier Parents

Do you have to travel a lot for your work?  If so and if you have kids, you’ll know where I’m coming from on this one.  When the kids are young, it’s pretty easy to get them a present while you’re away because the act of giving them anything is all they care about.  But as the kids get into late elementary school it gets progressively harder.  And what about the times when you’re rushing to/thru the airport to catch your flight?  Oops, no time to really shop and therefore no present this time.

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Umbrella Liability Policy – Do You Have One?

The parents of adolescent kids have increased legal liabilities.  Imagine they have some friends over and someone gets badly injured, especially if you have a swimming pool or live on a lake.  Or think about a car accident that is your kid’s fault and bad injuries or worse are involved.  When our oldest daughter entered junior high school, we got an umbrella liability policy from our insurance company to cover more than the standard liability coverage in our homeowner’s policy.  It doesn’t cost much for this coverage, even for $1M worth of coverage.  Your insurance agent can explain what is covered and how much is the right amount to get covered for.

See my other blog posts on parenting here.