A Letter to Parents of High Schoolers

Updated Aug 30, 2023
A Letter to Parents of High Schoolers

Kids want to be reassured their parents are going to be around even in their darkest moments. While we may not be able to give them a hug as we once did, we can still be a presence, encouraging them along the way.

Dear Parents, 

You did it! You’ve almost completed your kids’ transition from child to adult. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old, they will not turn from it.” As I wrestled with being a good parent, I knew I was investing in making them good kids but also respectable, independent adults as well. Many days felt like an eternity with sibling rivalry, conflict, and drama. When my kids were little and they got along, I spent many days daydreaming about who they would become. Would they follow in my husband's footsteps and become a part of the pastoral ministry? Would they find jobs that not only made them enough money to survive but also enough to purchase a home, get married, and have children? As I watched my kids play with their toys or use their imagination to create an activity for the day with their siblings, I wondered what the future would hold. Now, as a parent of a child who just graduated high school and one who starts her senior year, the saying is true: “The days are long, but the years are fast.”

Be a Guide

I remember just yesterday when my kids were still watching cartoons and playing with their toys. Somewhere along the way, they started a new phase in their lives: toys and cartoons quickly became outings with friends. I helped them pick out outfits, like shirts with mixed patterns rather than frilly dresses. The days of being my kids’ favorite person to see during the day quickly became someone whose advice was ignored and whose presence was not missed as much. I've enjoyed being a part of their lives, watching them discover their own identity and become mature, but some days, I miss the days of innocence, chatting with friends and having sleepovers. Now that they're in high school, they face a new set of challenges. Parents of kids in high school can be scared. It's normal. Our kids face challenges we never faced when we were their age. But there is hope. Even though we may feel as though our kids don't need us anymore, this is untrue. Kids need their parents to give guidance and direction more than ever before. They may not be as apt to ask for it, so we must learn how to navigate ways to dispense that advice without preaching or treating them like a child. 

As they navigate the waters of adulthood, spreading their wings and flying away from the nest, you can still guide and direct them. We once told them what to do and they heeded our instruction; now we must turn to asking questions and allowing them to arrive and discover the answer for themselves. You must take a posture of being less of a helicopter mom and more of a trusted friend, giving them advice that serves their best interest. It is also learning to accept that they may fail. While we never want our children to fail, we know that it's an inevitable part of life. Children must know that despite their failures we still love them. Kids want to be reassured their parents are going to be around even in their darkest moments. While we may not be able to give them a hug as we once did, we can still be a presence, encouraging them along the way. Hold fast to the Scriptures. As I re-read the Gospels, I realized that Jesus had two things that helped get him through his darkest moments: quality time with his Father and Scripture. Prayer and time in the Word are two of the most important things that you use to survive having high schoolers in your home. 

Surrender to God

Give everything over to the Lord. Surrender your children to him, knowing that he is in control of everything. Even if your children make choices that are far from what you would want for them, set consequences and firm boundaries and let them know they still must respect and honor them in your home. Even if your kids don't like that, you are teaching them respect for themselves, respect for authority, and reverence for people who are different. While kids still test boundaries, especially in high school, make sure they know that they are not alone. If severe bullying and other excessive use of screen time is a problem, install an app on their phone so it helps you track where they are or know what they're talking about with their friends. With your high schooler, it is the time for you to loosen the reins of your authority in their lives; it does not mean you must give up and let them make choices on their own, without rules and consequences. Rather, we're still responsible for helping them make choices in their best interest that will foster their spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical growth. 

Lead by Example

Finally, be an example, a reflection of what we want them to be when they grow up. Although we may make mistakes from time to time, living with integrity and humility and treating others the same way we want to be treated are a couple of ways to show Christ to our kids. Kids learn what they live. If we’re not the models of independent, well-adjusted individuals who love the Lord and whose presence is a part of their daily lives, who will be? If we are not the example, they will go to their friends and others who will meet their emotional needs in ways that we will not. Discover your child's love language and seek to show them in tangible ways how much you love them. Take time to spend with them on weekends or times when they're not working or out with friends. Be present in their lives simply by being an example. They will come and ask for your advice because they respect you and know you will have wisdom for them. Seek to live out the biblical principles we read in Scripture. Be an example by reading the Word in your home, praying for them, and above all, surrendering your life to the Lord. That will help make you a better example of Christ, and in the end, it may develop adults who are the same way. 

Parents, we have a limited amount of time left with our children. Let's make the most of it. Don’t focus on how much work we get accomplished. Instead, climb down the corporate ladder, put aside your social planner, and be a presence in your children's lives. By fostering and being examples of good people, we may have children who want to be adults whose ultimate goal is to become more like us and, ultimately, more like Christ.    

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/paylessimages

Writer Michelle LazurekMichelle S. Lazurek is a multi-genre award-winning author, speaker, pastor's wife, and mother. She is a literary agent for Wordwise Media Services and a certified writing coach. Her new children’s book Who God Wants Me to Be encourages girls to discover God’s plan for their careers. When not working, she enjoys sipping a Starbucks latte, collecting 80s memorabilia, and spending time with her family and her crazy dog. For more info, please visit her website www.michellelazurek.com.