By Jason Warnick ’98
Director of HAPA and Alumni Engagement
Parenting is the most difficult experience we may ever face. All we want is to see our children find happiness and fulfillment by maximizing their potential, utilizing their strengths, and conquering their challenges.
That’s not too much to ask, is it?
I must admit to lying awake at night dreaming of my own kids becoming presidents, professional athletes, and CEOs while fearing they become convicts, criminals, or “the guy on the couch.” How will I be sure of the former?
While there is no instruction manual and no right answer, as a secondary school educator with 15 years of experience I have identified some core traits shared by those parents whose students seem to be most successful in high school.
While high school isn’t but a mere step in the grander staircase of life, it’s not easy and it’s a step toward adulthood (if not a presidency).
Here are the traits I have identified in parents whose children find success in high school:
- Honesty: We all know when someone isn’t telling us the truth.
Our kids can smell dishonesty from a mile away. I’m not just talking about being honest with our kids. I’m talking about being honest with everyone else. Our kids are watching us much more closely than we might think. Knowing their parents are honest gives students comfort and safety and it ultimately leads them to do the same.
- Drive: Not the minivan, the pursuit of our goals and dreams.
Too often parents lecture their children about being a better student, working harder, or having better manners. Meanwhile, the parents themselves don’t appear happy, fulfilled, or driven. Who wants to follow that example? Why would anyone listen to you if you aren’t achieving your own goals or realizing your own potential?
- Humor: Parents need to have the ability to laugh.
Getting through the teenage years is tough for the whole family so you’ve got to have some fun along the way. Laughter brings a family together. It lets everyone be vulnerable and it puts the challenges in perspective. If parents can laugh at themselves, even better because it demonstrates the ability to check our egos and learn and grow.
Parenting is hard. Parenting teens is beyond challenging. Keep these three traits in mind and you might find yourself overcoming those challenges and helping your teen become successful. You may also find yourself succeeding quite a bit as well, and that’s great for your teen!