Monday, May 24, 2010

More School Stuff

From the "topic that won't die" file, I bring you another entry in the Rochester Public School budget cuts saga.

Tonight, at Willow Creek Middle School, there's a meeting for anyone interested in supporting the inevitable fall referendum. I don't know what to expect from this meeting, but I'll be attending to see how I can lend my hand.

Also, I got an e-mail recently from Chuck Briscoe, Century High School principal. He's always been kind and supportive of my work with the Post-Bulletin and I'd long hoped he'd be in place when my boys made it up the ranks to Century. Unfortunately for us, Briscoe has recently accepted an assistant superintendent position in the Anoka schools for next year.

Before he goes, however, he offered this advice for parents in answer to my, "tell us what we can do!" plea. Here's what Briscoe says:

I have shared this list of advice for parents for the past few years on how to work with teenagers:

For the past thirty-four years, I have had the good fortune to work with high school students. Each day at Century, I work with 1500 students. This does not make me an expert by any means. I have seen students and my own children make some very positive and, at times, courageous choices. I have had to love students at times when they may not have been the most lovable. I can promise you that 99.9% of all the students that I have had the privilege to work with will go down the right path, graduate from high school, and move on to the next level of learning.

The following list is what I believe you can do as a parent to, not only survive your years with your teenager, but also to be able to look back and say those were some of the best years as parents.

Ten Tips to Stay Ahead of the Game

Be a parent not a pal. As parents we need to be our teens’ anchors, not their best friends. Set clear boundaries, yet approach your teen with love and respect. Ignore the attitude. Save your energy for the big stuff. Is it really worth arguing about blue hair? You will find that by practicing my 24 hour rule (wait for one day before saying anything) many things will look different.

Talk the tough talk. Teens need to know your perspective on tobacco, drugs, alcohol, and their friends. Explain why you feel the way you do. Ask them are their friends taking them in the right direction or in the wrong direction?

Compliment your teen. Make it a habit to say at least three positive things to your teen every day. Some days this may be a challenge but there is something nice you can say each day. It is very easy to notice the negative; no teenager or adult who I know has complained about receiving a compliment.

Get to know your teenagers’ friends and their parents. Friends are a big deal, but connecting with the parents of these friends will become your lifeline. By consistently checking in with parents you will have your finger on the pulse of their activities.

Don’t be a maid. It is important for every teenager to have a meaningful role in the family. Every teenager is capable of mowing the lawn, shoveling snow, helping with laundry, and cleaning their own room. Who will be there to assume this role when they leave home?

Make respect and trust a two-way street. If you expect respectful behavior from your teen, parents and principals need to demonstrate how they handle issues in a respectful manner. Explain to your teenager that they will earn a great deal of trust by consistently doing what they say they will do.

Listen, don’t lecture. When kids are ready to talk, be ready to listen. This may not be at a convenient time for you, but please try and take the time to listen at that moment. Please resist offering too much advice but helping them think through their issue by asking them questions.

Agree to disagree. It may seem like you disagree about everything with your teen. Don’t worry, they are figuring out for themselves where they fit into the world and may be using you to try out different perspectives.

Have fun together. These can be challenging years as a parent, but there can be plenty of fun times and good memories. At this stage, you be the last person your teen wants to be seen with in public, but offer to drive them and their friends to school and athletic events. Listen to their conversation during the drive; it will provide a wealth of information about your teen. Remember to smile and search for things you can do together.

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