Attention Parents … Your Teen has Left the Village!

It Really Does Take a Village to Raise a Child:

It may have been the best-planned social event my wife and I have ever attended … 8th Grade Graduation for our daughter, Michelle, and her 57 classmates! Months of intense preparation by a 12-parent graduation committee resulted in an impressive ceremony followed by a dinner party that culminated in a professionally edited 45-minute music video featuring photographs and video clips of the kids as they surfed through 8 years of:

  • Classroom activity and spelling bees,
  • Track events and swimming meets,
  • Class trips and birthday parties,
  • Trips to museums and zoos,
  • Summer vacations and volunteer projects,
  • Science fairs and talent competitions, and
  • All of those travel teams!

I thought, “Wow. It really does take a village to raise a child.” Like us, I’m sure you were an important part of that village of Parents, Teachers, Coaches, Doctors, Educators, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, and of course, Babysitters!. Then something rather earth shattering occurred … High School.

“Who?”

Up until that point, we knew all of Michelle’s friends and had formed many friendships with their parents. We coached them in sports, served lunch in the cafeteria, carpooled them to school, and knew their teachers and coaches. In high school, however, there was an entirely new set of teachers, coaches, and friends who we had never even met before. My wife and I would ask, “Now, Who is that again?” and “You’re going to Who’s house?” and “Who’s driving again?”

We never did find out who Who was!

Our teen had left the village. Like it or not, she was becoming a young adult. We had raised a child with the help of a village. Now it was time to help her become a strong individual, a responsible adult.

It Takes a Strong Individual to Transition from Childhood to Responsible Adult

All of a sudden, she was in a different world; one that really wasn’t as excited about receiving parental help. And, quite frankly, we didn’t have the time and energy to start all over again for her four short years of high school. But, it seemed like the timing couldn’t be worse for her to navigate this new world by herself.

Michelle was about to make new friends, learn to drive a 1500-lb car 70 miles per hour down the freeway on snowy nights, and say either yes or no to binge drinking, smoking, and drug use. She would begin new activities and make new decisions that would have enormous consequences that would extend well into her future. She was on the verge of receiving an explosion of new freedoms and independence at a time when her level of experience in these matters was relatively low. The village we knew so well was gone. And, we knew very little of her new world.

We raised a child with the help of a village. All of a sudden, we had to rely on her to make responsible decisions in this new world. Have you ever felt the same?

The Bottom Line Is This

On Friday night, when your son or daughter finds out that they didn’t …

  • Make the basketball team, or
  • Pass that chemistry exam you told them they better ace, or
  • Get that part in the play they so desperately wanted, or
  • See the text from their girlfriend that she wants to break up,

And someone comes up to them and says: Who cares? Let’s go get high. When this happens, their teachers will not be there. The police will not be there. Their coaches will not be there. You will not be there.

The Good News Is …

No matter where your teen is,
No matter what time of day or night it is,
No matter how often he or she has to make a critical decision,

There is one person who will always be there… Your teen! Wherever your son or daughter goes, he or she is always there! The one person who can Just Say No.

This can seem daunting, that they are relying on themselves. But, it can also be liberating for them; to know that they don’t have to rely on a dozen unknown forces to be safe. It empowers them and gives them a quite confidence.

Your job is to guide them to be their own hero! To motivate themselves to prepare for a big life.

Your teen will have to transition from the village to their new world … fast!

P.S. If you have a parent group, or a classroom of 7th grade, 8th grade, freshmen or sophomore students who would benefit from Just Say No, click here to see the presentation outline of the Just Say No Talk.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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