The answer is for the parents and high school to find the right amount of interaction.
The role of parents and high school interaction has changed dramatically since today’s parents were students and will continue to change as time goes on. The main determining factor in this anomaly is largely contributed to one’s own experience.
What type of parent are you?
If broken down by generation and social or economical class, there are unique similarities between the two spectrums that are created: the helicopter parent who “hovers” and will not let their child fail even if they have not earned a passing grade, and the non-existent parent who will not respond to a teacher email or phone call no matter what the situation. Now in order to keep stereotypes to a minimum, let’s understand that these stereotypes exist on both ends of the wealth spectrum.
Getting to understand the entitlement generation.
The current high school students fall at the end of the “Entitlement Generation.” This generation is labeled as many things including the most obvious trait- entitled. One who is entitled believes that they should have things just because they want them. They do not understand the value of hard work or earning something as a result of sacrifice.
When an entitled person does not get their way there is usually a reversion to “child-like” behavior in an attempt to get the refusing party to give in to their demands. When children of the “Entitlement Generation” enter the work force, employers complain that they are lazy and always looking at the corner office with little work ethic to earn their way there. Many of these students live off of their parents’ income far longer than those of any other generation, even after obtaining college degrees and beginning careers.
For high school students, they expect teachers to give them extra time for assignments simply because they asked, their parents to always believe that every problem is the teacher’s fault, and that they should be able to go to any college they want and have any career they want even if they are poorly qualified.
This generation of high school students is dealing with either the lack of parental involvement, which is causing their education to suffer, or an overabundance of concern to the point that their behavior towards teachers and administration often verges on harassment.
Take the following questionnaire.
In order to learn key strategies to having a healthy relationship with your teen’s high school, you must be honest with yourself about which category you fall under. If you find yourself somewhere in the middle, then keep doing what you are doing, but if you feel your student’s success in school might be failing because of you, then check yourself against the following questionnaire. Keep in mind that not all of these characteristics are bad.
Are you a helicopter parent?
1) I believe that my child follows all the rules all the time and if he gets into trouble, then I will go up to the school to fix the problem.
2) My child would never lie about turning in an assignment. If he says he turned it in, then he turned it in. It must be the teacher’s fault.
3) I am in charge of every function and know that if I run an organization then my student will always be the best.
4) If my child does not get his way, then I usually apologize or offer to give him something to fix it.
5) My child does not have chores at home, being a teenager is work enough for him.
6) If a teacher emails me about my child, the first thing I asked is what she did to upset him. If he is failing to turn work in, then she must not be teaching him appropriately.
7) I solve all of my son’s problems for him.
8) My son has all of the latest electronics and fashionable clothes because we want him to be cool and fit in the other kids, but mainly because we want him to like us.
Are you a non-existent parent?
1) I work hard so my kids will have everything that I never had. They understand that I am not around all the time because my work is important.
2) If they fail in school, then they will just have to find a way to be more motivated or work harder. I cannot do it for them.
3) I am home after 9:00pm at least three times a week because of work.
4) I attend less than half of my child’s extra-curricular activities, or he cannot participate in extra-curricular activities because I cannot manage transportation for him.
5) My child’s teacher emails and calls me, but I do not have time to respond and her job is to teach my child; it is not my responsibility.
Here are a few strategies that can help.
These are just a few of the characteristics that describe each of these categories. If you find that you want to be involved in your high school student’s life in a healthy manner here are a few tips for each category:
If you are a helicopter parent:
1) Give your child some space. Allow your child the opportunity to make decisions that will determine if they succeed or fail. When they succeed, give them praise; when they fail, you are close enough to help them learn from their mistakes. They will surprise you with their ability to make good choices as a result of your parenting.
2) Ask your high school student what bothers them the most about your involvement in their education; be prepared to listen and not be defensive. Every parent knows that teenagers can be brutally honest, but this feedback will help you know where you can make some adjustments so that your student feels more positively about your involvement.
3) High school students are almost adults, and with adult freedom, comes adult responsibility. The average five year old can use a washing machine. It is a shame that 30% of college freshman have to learn how to use the washing machine from a roommate or resident assistant. Give them responsibilities to help prepare them for the future.
4) Network with other parents involved in school so you can see what activities are going on, and which ones are the most important ones for you to invest your time in. If you cannot attend all the events, or should not, then at least you will know which parents are.
5) Hold your child accountable for his education. One of the earliest sins a child learns is how to lie, and by the time a student is in high school, they have perfected it. Do not automatically assume that every bad grade or missing assignment is the teacher’s fault. If this is a recurring problem, then contact the teacher in an open discussion manner about what steps you can take together to help your son be more successful.
If you are a non-existent parent:
1) Make time for your family and ask your kids about their education. You should know when report cards come out, how the sports teams are doing, and what activities your child is involved in. Every school has a website where you can find this information, and most schools have automated phone systems to update the important events.
2) If you child is enrolled in an extra-curricular activity, then do your best to attend at least half of all their events. Your presence makes a big difference in their lives, and their participation in the activity makes a significant impact on their educational success. Students who are involved in extra-curricular activities usually have an eligibility requirement. This ensures that your student is getting the grades that he needs to pass for the year.
3) If your student is not enrolled in an extra-curricular activity, then you need to find out why. The number of clubs and organizations in schools are in the hundreds and designed so that all students can find something to be a part of. Encourage them to find their niche at school, or make an attempt to get them involved outside of school.
4) Join a Parent-Teacher Organization. This does not mean that you will volunteer for every event that there is, but you will be in the loop on what types of events are offered and when they occur. If you have made a habit of always being absent from events, then surprise your teen by being present. Whether they admit it or not, it makes a difference.
5) Keep your phone and email contacts up to date for school personnel and don’t ignore them when they contact you. This is crucial to the success of your student, especially when there is a problem. If you are willing to collaborate with teachers, then you child’s success is imminent. Teachers will do their best to work on behalf of your child, and if you are on board, it makes an enormous difference.