A Parent's Back to School Thoughts

Like so many of you, my family has been focused on the end-of-summer rites of passage…back to school shopping, first day of school photos, life revving  up into high gear again. Buses and car pools, PTA meetings, after-school activities, the list goes on.

Kids and parents alike are both excited and stressed. For those transitioning from elementary to middle, middle to high school, high school to college, or even just to a new school, the stress can easily outweigh the excitement. With change comes risk. Will our child make friends quickly? Will those friends be positive influences on them?

There are no guarantees. So we, the parents, anxiously watch from the sidelines. Hoping our kids will share their day at school with us. Hoping they’ll let us know if they’re feeling overwhelmed or depressed. Hoping we’ll be able to tell if anything is going wrong in their lives. Sometimes we see signs that they’re struggling. Sometimes we don’t. After all, we’re going a million miles an hour, too, and many children have perfected the art of the one-word response.

Our conversations too often focus on the necessary…have you done your homework, do you have your lunch, what time is Back-to-School Night, etc.  It can take time and effort to have a deeper conversation with them about less mundane matters.

I’m trying to be more mindful of my interactions with my children. I’m hoping to be the one they’ll turn to if they need help or if they feel tempted to experiment, or self-medicate, with drugs or alcohol. Change is hard and I am aware that my kids may feel the internal pressure to achieve even if my husband and I aren’t pressuring them. The best I can do - the best we can do - is to keep the lines of communication open and let them know that we are in their corner. No matter what.

May all our children flourish during this coming school year.