A Senior’s Advice to a Milton Parent
by Hannah Iafrati on Friday, October 17th, 2014
This may come as a shock to you underclassman, but senior year is difficult. I say that sarcastically, of course. Since the day we stepped into this bright and beautiful world, people have been using senior year of high school as the benchmark of lifelong difficulties. “Oh, you think that your coloring book is hard?” they say, “just wait till you take the SATs!” You know you will have to go on transcontinental college visits. You know you will have to do well in school. What I should have said is that, after a lifetime supply of warnings, a plethora of older siblings’ complaints, and at least three days spent practicing for standardized tests in a sad and dark room, you aren’t at all ready for the stress about to come your way. All the free time you’ve been enjoying on the weekends? That’ll be gone. Those occasional Bs you shrug off? They’ll be the end of the world. Sleep will become a distant memory you think back on fondly, friends will become an almost foreign concept. And to top off the stress, the homework, and the suffocating fear of the future, there will be your parents.
To the parents: often in our twenty-first century world, full of selfies and self-help books, there seems to be no right way to help your children. On one hand, an overwhelming desire to see your child prosper might blind you to the gears churning in the background; piling on the workload can only stress your child out, leading to an unnecessary spike in breakdowns, breakouts, and depression. On the other hand, taking a relaxed approach to your children’s success might result in a mutual lack of urgency on their part; as fun as it might be to watch the new season of American Horror Story as a family, your precious little baby is probably a quarter done with his applications and hasn’t even started his homework. Like the trainer of an elderly woman, you don’t really know the speed her old bones are capable of running. You can turn the treadmill all the way up, sign your kids up for a daily SAT class, make them bake cookies for every college officer, and watch that flimsy old body slam into the back wall. You can turn the speed to a slow drag, give them independence, buy them candy, tell them that they are beautiful snowflakes that can do no wrong, and allow that old lady to slowly melt under her own fat. You, dear parents, might be tossing and turning at night over this quandary, unable to sleep amongst your partner’s gentle snoring, haunted by the possibility poor parenting.
My opinion? Find the balance that is right for your child. It’s too easy to say that there is a universal formula for being a mother or father, a single rule that can be gaged from one of those glossy Parenting Today! magazines. There isn’t. The only thing that you, as a legal guardian of a hormonal teenager, can do is know your children. “Different things work for different people,” says Ms. Chapin, a psychology teacher at Milton. “A parenting style that works for one child may not work for the other.” This philosophy means that, just because you are inclined to be a strict parent, your type-A child might not need that type of “B-plus-I-have-no-son” enforcement, and, just because you feel like taking a laid back approach, your child may want a firmer hand. Or, as Ms. Chapin adds, “it’s all about a good match.” But there is one principle that, in almost every case, helps: be supportive, be calm, and believe in your child. “When my parents get stressed,” says Katie Berry (I). “I get stressed. Nothing makes things harder than when they tell me that I’m shooting too high, or don’t know what I’m doing. Just pretend like I’m doing it right!” Senior year is already a difficult enough weight to bear, parents, and nothing will help us more than support from those who love us most.
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