The transition to high school can be tough for parents. You realize that this is your last hooray with your kids, and a flood of emotions emerge. My kids are only 5 & 2, but as a middle school counselor, I have the privilege of watching other people’s children transition from elementary to middle & middle to high school. Kwame, author of MissKwame76, shares her experience of the high school transition and the challenges it brought for her.
Two weeks ago, my beautiful little girl officially became a high school freshman. Unlike previous school years, this time, I was prepared. We researched the dress code and bought all the clothing she needed over the summer. I bought the school supplies, we finished the summer biology homework way ahead of schedule and even completed the athletics forms so she could participate in the golf team’s practice session day one.
Everything was figured out. Or so I thought.
My daughter was excited to go back to school. Honestly, who wouldn’t be? She gets to hang out with her friends again and meet new ones in the process.
I, on the other hand, was overcome with stress and anxiety. In my quest to be a prepared mom, I realized I wasn’t prepared for how emotional this milestone would make me.
Here are a few important lessons I learned as I navigated my first two weeks as the mom of a high school freshman.
Don’t project your high school (or any school) experience on your child
I freaked week one because my daughter came home every day telling me how much she liked high school. She couldn’t believe that it was the antithesis of everything she saw on television or heard from older friends. My high school experience was full of mixed emotions. I encountered mean girls who embarrassed me every chance they got. As a result, I found myself trying to dim my daughter’s light by telling her…“Well, it’s only your first week. Who knows what the rest of the year will bring.”
Don’t do this. Learn from my mistakes.
Know that you will make mistakes with your high school child
Later, I went to her and apologized for my comment. I’m happy she enjoys high school. And I’m even happier that I learned this lesson. Her experiences are her own. My roles as mom is to be the encourager-in-chief, not to keep her discouraged. I’m not perfect, and I can’t pretend to be either. She will learn to embrace my words of wisdom when she sees that I can acknowledge my own mistakes.
Honor your feelings
I was anxious before her first day. Several friends shared stories of their children’s high school experience which freaked me out. I tried not to give into these feelings, but thinking about how high school might bring an element in her life I’m not ready for her to be exposed freaked me out. So I saw my therapist who reminded to honor my feelings. She said it was okay to be afraid, but for her but not to let these emotions paralyze me unnecessarily.
Learn how to let go
As my daughter gets older, I realize that I have to learn to exist in a world where I’m no longer the center of her universe. Looking back, I think I’ve unknowingly felt this way with each milestone she reached. As parents, we have to realize it’s okay to feel stress and anxiety as our kids grow. I’m learning to be kind and gentle with myself because I’ve raised a smart young woman. I trust her to make the right choices.
Have you experienced the back to school emotional roller coaster? How have you handled it?
Kwame is a single mom, full time as a practice manager of a physical therapy facility, animal lover, vegan and side hustler extraordinaire. To read more of her writing or learn more about her, visit her blog at www.misskwame76.com.