By Joronda Montaño
You have been waiting 18 years for this big day and it’s finally about to happen. High school graduation! Just like the day they were born, you have so much wonder. What will happen next? What will life look like for them 10 years from now? Tears of excitement, disbelief and even relief are starting to set in.
But hold on just a second, it’s not over just yet. It’s a time for celebration and before you cut them loose to enjoy the fruits of their labor, make sure to protect your assets. Yes, your assets. You’ve put just as much work into this day as they have and together you made it. So as the celebration begins, here are six tips for preparing teens during this transition to help them stay safe.
If you have established clear expectations like curfews or no alcohol, stick to it. There is no need to create new rules for the sake of a night of fun. Keep your expectations and make sure they know them so they can get back home safely after the party.
Healthy communication is both speaking and listening. Let them know your expectations and don’t assume they know. Let it come directly from your mouth so you are both clear about what is acceptable and what is unacceptable. And on the flipside, what is arguably more crucial than talking is listening. Let them speak and hear them out.
Know what high school students are into these days. Google it, YouTube it and for sure ask them to fill you in. They are getting ready to start “adulating,” (yes I used it as a verb) so having mature adult like conversations can lend to some great education for you.
Allow room for them to be open and honest, and don’t overreact when they tell you the truth. That conversation could be a lifesaving moment. If, for example, they are at a party and know they can call you to get out of a sticky situation, they won’t be afraid to pick up the phone to ask you to come and bail them out. Even if it is 1 a.m., it’s best they let you in on it than take the risk of staying in the situation. Tell them it’s a phone call you would be happy to take.
Discourage Risky Behaviors
Research shows that the adolescent brain continues to develop until the mid-20s. The part that controls impulse and planning ahead develops last according to researchers. So, instead of waiting for them to think it through, give them the road map of what not to do.
Check in on them to make sure everything is going well. Go ahead and talk, but don’t forget you might need to sometimes talk with your fingers. E-communication is such a reality for teenagers today that going against it might put you in the dark ages or at least in the quiet zone with no sign of teen activity for days.
Joronda Montaño is the program director for notMYkid, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to serving the interests of youth and families who are at-risk for drug abuse, eating disorders, bullying, depression and more.