High school, the rite of passage that most of us go through on the way to adulthood. Love it or hate it, we survived and are happy to move on, until our own children start high school, that is.
It's easy to assume that we know everything about high school since we lived through it. However, today's high school students face unique challenges, many of which they wish their parents understood better.
You may be out of formal schooling, but now it's time for Modern Day High School 101. Here are 10 things your high school student wishes you understood about her world.
- My social life is all online. I use Facebook like you do, but I also use Twitter, Instagram, Vine and Snapchat. You need to understand how I, and all my friends, are using this stuff.
- My online social life is not always healthy. Cyber-bullying is a real thing, and I'm faced with online nastiness everyday. My friends are “sexting”, too. Just thought you should know.
- I take tests, tests and more tests. My school life is a series of never-ending standardized tests. Add that to the SATs, ACTs and AP testing, and I'm spending a lot of time prepping for testing.
- Cutthroat competition is my normal. My car, my clothes and my friends determine where I fit in. I feel insane pressure to fit in, excel and get into a good college when I'm done. Sometimes everyone feels like a threat to my success.
- Sarcasm is my first language. My friends and I watch TV shows and movies where sarcastic characters seem hilarious. It spills over to my friendships, and I get my feelings hurt.
- I have the whole world open to me, and that's a little scary. Society is breaking down the barriers between groups, races and classes. I have tons of opportunities, but no idea what I want to do with my life. Yet.
- I really will die without my phone. All my friends really do have cell phones, and all of them really do text. All the time. I know you think I'm being dramatic, but this is how my generation communicates.
- My homework is out of control. I take a ton of classes each day, we have too much material to cover in one year and my teachers don't coordinate homework assignments. Sometimes I get buried.
- I'm still figuring out responsibility. Most of my friends have a lot of freedom, and “traditional” families are pretty rare. I screw things up. I make mistakes, and I need your help making good decisions.
- I know that things really aren't that different, but I'm living my own life. I know you dealt with peer pressure and drinking and sex in high school, but you aren't living my life. I want your advice (even when I don't act like it), and sometimes your stories are pretty funny. However, I need you to realize that my drama is a big deal to me. Don't put me down just because you've been there and done that.
The best thing we can give our high-school aged kids is time. They push us away and act like they don't care, but they need to know someone has their back — unconditionally. High school is a time to grow up and screw up. These kids are figuring out who they are and what they're all about.
It may not feel like it, but you do matter. Your high school kid really does want you to know what's happening in his life. Make yourself available and your kid may surprise you with openness and honesty.
Heather Hale is a fourth-generation Montanan, mom to two crazy boys, and wife to one amazing husband. You can learn more about her eco-conscious lifestyle at moderatelycrunchy.com.