SENIOR YEAR FUN?
Senior year in high school means elective filled schedules and enjoying extracurricular activities. It is also a time for exploring the options of adulthood. Well, at least that is how I remember my senior year in 1989. I am thinking, either my memories are fuzzy or things have changed a ton.
Becca Lynn, my oldest daughter, is smack dab in the middle of her senior year. Great times, right? You would think she would be having the time of her life, but that is not the case. Sometimes I feel like my daughter is going to spontaneously implode. Her schedule is packed full of killer advanced classes. She has an extracurricular activity which has so many expectations. Lastly, she feels like she should already have her career life mapped out.
SENIOR YEAR STRESS IS CONTAGIOUS
I thought this might just be isolated to our house, but it seems a lot of Becca’s senior friends have put the same amount of stress on themselves as well. It is at least comforting to know I am not the only mom concerned about the anxiety senior year seems to be putting on our children. Why do our kids feel this undeniable pressure to push the boundaries of high school success. I will admit to being a type A parent, but has all of my expectations made my child feel like she needs to be perfect?
I encourage all of my children to take advantage of any opportunities that cross their path. At their high school AP classes, college courses, and certifications are offered. There are so many great programs in place. Becca has elected to take AP English, AP Calculus, and enroll in the college level certified nursing aide class. The programs are a great idea, but are our children trying to pack too much in their young lives. If Becca successfully completes all of her courses she will end her high school career with college class exemptions, She will also have a CNA certification, and 23 college credits toward the nursing program at a technical college.
I don’t think Becca was completely aware of how demanding her schedule would be on her time and energy. All I can do now as her mom is encourage and assist her with time management.
INTENSE EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES
In true Becca style she has taken on her new extracurricular passion, NJROTC, with all the drive she has in her 5 foot tall body. She has only been in for a year, but she is an officer, one of 7 top cadets. The officers are charged to lead a unit of over 170 fellow students. Unfortunately and fortunately my child has inherited my desire to do a job 100% the right way. She take her leadership very seriously.
Her boyfriend is also in NJROTC. He is the Executive Officer of the unit and is up for a scholarship to the Citadel in Charleston. Becca wants perfection not only for herself, but to help show the scholarship board members that her boyfriend is a capable leader and worthy of entrance to the their college. Her after school time is surely not relaxation time.
My daughter is only 18, not 24. Why does she, as well as many of her friends, feel the future needs to be all planned out. I can tell you, none of my plans as an 18 year-old-girl are in place now as a 45-year-old mother of three and grandmother of one. Why are we teaching our kids they need to have all of the answers by the end of high school. For goodness sake, I do not even have all the answers now.
Becca is constantly in angst over where she is going to school, how she will pay for it, and the length of time it will take her to reach her goals. I try to comfort her with my life lessons, but she does not want to hear it. She insists on putting an insane amount of pressure on herself regarding college plans, no matter how hard I try to calm her nerves.
WHAT’S THE ANSWER?
What do you do? As a parent you want to rush in and make everything better, but then what will your child learn? That mom and dad have no confidence in their ability or even worse they do not ever need to take the initiative to solve their own problems. I hate that Becca feels so stressed, but I do have to save I am proud of her “make it happen” attitude.
All we can do as parents is monitor that they are not overwhelmed, help with the menial tasks, and remind them it is only a year or so of their life. Do not do any permanent damage to your mental health, for this too will pass. I hope she gets past some of this stress and is able to enjoy her senior year a little. After all. as we older folks know time for being a kids is almost over and then the real pressure begins.