High school is all about independence. Especially for incoming freshmen, the topic of independence comes up very frequently. At this point in their lives, students are learning to do things on their own and are really beginning to look out for themselves. This change not only affects the students, but also their parents.
When students are first starting to explore their newfound independence, it might be a little scary for the parents. It is a time of transition, of change, and as children begin to leave the nest, parents can feel on edge. All parents obviously want the best for their children, and because of this they might worry about them making the right decisions. However, a student discovering their independence is an imperative part of their high school career. As a high school freshman myself, I know that I want my success as much as – if not more than – my parents do. Most students already put a lot of pressure on themselves to get work done and do well on tests and quizzes, and parents should embrace the fact that students know what’s best for themselves and trust in their increasing self-sufficiency. Parents might feel sad about their children starting to do things on their own, but it is all part of the process of growing up.
But obviously not just the parents are affected. As the ones who are actually discovering their independence firsthand, the students themselves are affected the most by transitioning to high school. At first, it might seem difficult to adjust to the new, more self-reliant environment. However, it is important for the student to understand that they are not alone. Friends, family, and even teachers and guidance counselors are important tools that students can use to better adjust to their newfound independence. If the student feels like their parents aren’t honoring their recently discovered autonomy, it is important that they have a conversation and set up boundaries to help them better understand each other.
Boundaries are a crucial part of maintaining one’s independence. It may seem contradictory to create restrictions in order to gain more independence, but it all goes back to balance. Parents who are too controlling of their teens can lead to them rebelling in negative ways, or, on the other hand, prevent them from becoming their own person due to the constant sheltering. This often comes down to the fact that parents do not trust their teens enough to make good choices. This is why students need a healthy relationship with their parents-there needs to be communication, compromises, and both parties need to feel that they have a say in how the other operates. Students need help from friends and family to root for them and encourage them throughout school and later on, while still making it possible for them to do things on their own. Thus, it is important for families to have a solid foundation of trust.
The most important thing for students to remember is that they are their own person and therefore are able to make their own decisions, but they are most definitely not alone. It’s finding the perfect balance of independence and support from parents, friends, teachers, etc. that will help high school students thrive in the future.