Thursday, April 22, 2010

Just Being There for Our Teens

The emotional support a teen receives from parents during high school holds enormous benefit. It seems intuitive that paying attention to what is going on, asking questions that may or may not be answered, maintaining high expectations and providing counsel when appropriate goes hand in hand with success in high school and college. That's what a Harvard study found.

Here's my story. Attending college did not run in my family. I suspect my dad did not hear this option discussed at home. He later attended college classes at night but never got a degree. That said, he was a born historian and a damn fine writer. He used these well-honed skills in research and writing published articles and essays. My mother was exceptionally bright -- and was told she could go to the teachers' college, but that was it. In a decision she told me she regretted greatly, she announced she didn't want to be a teacher.

But they were there for me when it was my time. In fact, maybe a bit unrealistically (but it sure felt good), they believed I could do anything, go anywhere. Even though we had fairly modest means they never put any stipulations on where I should apply or might attend. And they figured out how to pay for four years of private colleges for my brother and me. They believed in us and wanted the best for us. They provided the encouragement and emotional support that perhaps they'd lacked during high school.

So at a time when distances between parent and child can grow exponentially, when there is a great temptation to ignore areas that could cause friction or the dreaded teen "look," it's important to remember they are still our children, still under our roof. Teens need us to show interest and concern and delight. Even if they appear to think otherwise.

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