Adolescence plunges children into flux, altering their motivations and interests. If one word best describes high school, it is “change.” While teenagers often act like they no longer need parents, our job is far from complete. Events in high school can deeply impact the trajectory of our children’s lives. Fathers must pay attention, listen, and assure teenagers that we want to continually rediscover who they are becoming.
As children journey into adulthood, their potential increases exponentially. Experiencing new freedoms for the first time, teenagers see themselves as more independent, and rightfully so. With constantly changing beliefs and interests, teenagers will challenge us on just about everything. If the boundaries we set for them don’t align with their values, they are likely to overstep. Arguments are inevitable. Remember, disagreements are not about what we both want ten years from now, but about today. Amidst all the new freedoms, a father must help them remain on course. If completing high school somehow becomes a negotiation, or if they stop attending, their lives will get very difficult very quickly and they may never fully recover.
Increasingly self-aware, cognitive advances include improved focus, memory, and organizational skills. High school is a time to push the limits. Where choices empower, rules constrain; teenagers seek experiences that create intense feelings and sensations. They may not confide in us often, but when they have something to say, they really want us to listen.
Freshmen and sophomores go to bed late and sleep late. Raging hormones increase susceptibility to alcohol, drugs, pornography, sexual abuse, depression, and suicide. Boys grow taller, heavier, and hairier, and often develop acne. Girls start experimenting with ways to express themselves sexually, wearing make-up and dressing more provocatively as they grow into women.
As children enter high school, they consider their place in the world, both now and in the future. A healthy value system is of prominent importance; with more on the line, choices are more meaningful. Friendships formed in high school often influence the rest of our lives. Drive them to activities, invite their friends over, and say things like, “I’m listening, help me better understand,” and “You can tell me anything, I love you forever no matter what.”
If teenagers are considering college, academic performance is important. The time has come to start considering life after high school. Encourage them to pursue activities that build diligence and industry. With all responsibilities, the importance of a strong work ethic cannot be overstated.
They’ve already learned so much; don’t let them stop now. They’ve now reached the age where they’ll be much more receptive to self-development non-fiction. By making reading part of a daily routine, we prepare kids for greater success in all walks of life.
Help teenagers understand that energy drinks do not replace sleep. Caution them about excessive caffeine, and limit screen time in the evening. As always, adequate sleep, nutrition, and exercise are important. Accompanied by puberty are emotional trials and tribulations of cataclysmic importance; dad should ensure strong support for mental health. Keep watch for sudden changes in weight, appetite, interests, and behaviors. It’s ok to ask, “Would you be interested in seeing a counselor to talk about that?”
Fathers Truly Matter
How are we shaping the values in our home? When dad asks open-ended questions about their day at the family dinner table and listens with a supportive ear, we remain completely and consistently available. With both word and deed, help children know that we have their back no matter what.
Daddy-daughter time is important at any age. A son won’t outgrow the benefits of hanging out with a good father. Sometimes, teenagers will only want their friends—very normal. Whether they are introverted, extroverted, or anywhere in between, there are things we can do to spend time together. Fathers who want to spend time with their teenagers can usually find a way. Make suggestions based on what they enjoy. Six ideas: concerts, sporting events, fishing trips, cooking dinner, dining out, and going for ice cream—make suggestions based on what they enjoy.
Teenagers should establish appropriate boundaries and practice mutual respect in all relationships. Conversations about sex and dating are real-life, replacing theoretical discussions from years past. Fathers should finish conversations with a style that makes it ok to revisit things. Help teenagers script responses in case peer pressure makes them uncomfortable. Anytime they volunteer sensitive information, communicate, “I’m so glad you asked me.” If we notice they are falling head over heels in love, remind them, “It’s important to hang out with your other friends too.”
With the entire world at their fingertips, screen time is important. Regardless—and even if they don’t acknowledge it—teenagers want real connections with real people. Discuss the potential value vs. potential consequences of social media and the downsides associated with too much screen time. Remind them that real-life relationships are impacted by comments made on the internet. Even if communication is private and temporary, it can quickly become public and permanent.
By emphasizing the importance of our children’s spiritual connection, we can influence our teenagers to strengthen their relationship with God. Our children should know that there is nothing they will ever do that could make us, or God, stop loving them.
With more potential than ever before, our freshmen and sophomore children are experiencing newfound freedoms at every turn. We still have a few years to help them shape their lives. Remind them to trust themselves and the system of values we’ve helped them cultivate over the years.
Excellent Reading for High School Freshmen
The classic apocalyptic novel that stunned the nation with its vivid portrayal of a small town’s survival after nuclear holocaust devastates the country.
A cornerstone of American literature and one of the funniest—and most celebrated—books of all time. Set in Italy during World War II, this is the story of the incomparable, malingering bombardier, Yossarian, a hero who is furious because thousands of people he has never met are trying to kill him. But his real problem is not the enemy…
Written in the shadow of the rise of fascism during the 1930s, Brave New World likewise speaks to a 21st-century world dominated by mass-entertainment, technology, medicine and pharmaceuticals, the arts of persuasion, and the hidden influence of elites. Now more than ever: Aldous Huxley’s enduring masterwork must be read and understood by anyone concerned with preserving the human spirit
They existed only to serve the state. They were conceived in controlled Palaces of Mating. They died in the Home of the Useless. From cradle to grave, the crowd was one—the great WE.
George Orwell’s timeless and timely allegorical novel—a scathing satire on a downtrodden society’s blind march towards totalitarianism.
Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare early in his career about two young star-crossed lovers whose deaths ultimately reconcile their feuding families.
Freshman year is not going well for Melinda Sordino. She busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, and now her friends—and even strangers—all hate her. So she stops trying, stops talking. She retreats into her head, and all the lies and hypocrisies of high school become magnified, leaving her with no desire to talk to anyone anyway. But it’s not so comfortable in her head, either—there’s something banging around in there that she doesn’t want to think about. She can’t just go on like this forever. Eventually, she’s going to have to confront the thing she’s avoiding, the thing that happened at the party, the thing that nobody but her knows. She’s going to have to speak the truth.
Set in New Orleans and the Southern Louisiana coast at the end of the nineteenth century, the plot centers on Edna Pontellier and her struggle to reconcile her increasingly unorthodox views on femininity and motherhood with the prevailing social attitudes of the turn-of-the-century American South.
Out of print for almost thirty years—due largely to initial audiences’ rejection of its strong black female protagonist—Hurston’s classic has since its 1978 reissue become perhaps the most widely read and highly acclaimed novel in the canon of African-American literature.
The Poisonwood Bible is a story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. They carry with them everything they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it—from garden seeds to Scripture—is calamitously transformed on African soil. What follows is a suspenseful epic of one family’s tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa.
Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior – to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor, and pathos.
The story of Victor Frankenstein’s terrible creation and the havoc it caused has enthralled generations of readers and inspired countless writers of horror and suspense.
The #1 New York Times bestselling novel and basis for the Academy Award-winning film—a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don’t—nominated as one of America’s best-loved novels by PBS’s The Great American Read.
It’s an ordinary Thursday morning for Arthur Dent… until his house gets demolished. The Earth follows shortly after to make way for a new hyperspace express route, and Arthur’s best friend has just announced that he’s an alien. After that, things get much, much worse. With just a towel, a small yellow fish, and a book, Arthur has to navigate through a very hostile universe in the company of a gang of unreliable aliens. Luckily the fish is quite good at languages. And the book is The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy… which helpfully has the words DON’T PANIC inscribed in large, friendly letters on its cover.
“I loved her against reason, against promise, against peace, against hope, against happiness, against all discouragement that could be.” ― Charles Dickens
Excellent Reading for Sophomores
At the dawn of the next world war, a plane crashes on an uncharted island, stranding a group of schoolboys. At first, with no adult supervision, their freedom is something to celebrate. This far from civilization they can do anything they want. Anything. But as order collapses…
Story of a former Olympian’s courage, cunning, and fortitude following his plane crash in enemy territory. This adaptation of Unbroken introduces a new generation to one of history’s most thrilling survival epics.
Set at a boys’ boarding school in New England during the early years of World War II, A Separate Peace is a harrowing and luminous parable of the dark side of adolescence. Gene is a lonely, introverted intellectual. Phineas is a handsome, taunting, daredevil athlete. What happens between the two friends one summer, like the war itself, banishes the innocence of these boys and their world.
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER – A powerful, blazingly honest memoir: the story of an eleven-hundred-mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe—and built her back up again.
Widely regarded as one of the funniest and most tragic books ever written, Don Quixote chronicles the adventures of the self-created knight-errant Don Quixote of La Mancha and his faithful squire, Sancho Panza, as they travel through sixteenth-century Spain. You haven’t experienced Don Quixote in English until you’ve read this masterful translation.
What is war like through the eyes of a child soldier? How does one become a killer? How does one stop? Child soldiers have been profiled by journalists, and novelists have struggled to imagine their lives. But until now, there has not been a first-person account from someone who came through this hell and survived.
‘Now, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else.’
Halter is fascinated by famous last words—and tired of his safe life at home. He leaves for boarding school to seek what the dying poet François Rabelais called the “Great Perhaps.” Much awaits Miles at Culver Creek, including Alaska Young, who will pull Miles into her labyrinth and catapult him into the Great Perhaps.
A startling and haunting novel, 1984 creates an imaginary world that is completely convincing from start to finish. No one can deny the novel’s hold on the imaginations of whole generations, or the power of its admonitions—a power that seems to grow, not lessen, with the passage of time
In this eloquently written book, he describes events in a remarkable life that began in bondage and culminated in worldwide recognition for his many accomplishments. In simply written yet stirring passages, he tells of his impoverished childhood and youth, the unrelenting struggle for an education, early teaching assignments, his selection in 1881 to head Tuskegee Institute, and more.
Like his father and grandfather before him, Kino is a poor diver, gathering pearls from the gulf beds that once brought great wealth to the Kings of Spain and now provide Kino, Juana, and their infant son with meager subsistence. Then, on a day like any other, Kino emerges from the sea with a pearl as large as a sea gull’s egg, as “perfect as the moon.” With the pearl comes hope, the promise of comfort and of security… A story of classic simplicity, based on a Mexican folk tale, The Pearl explores the secrets of man’s nature, the darkest depths of evil, and the luminous possibilities of love.
PLEASE NOTE: As an Amazon Associate, Fathers Truly Matter earns from qualifying purchases. The information in this post was inspired by Kristen Ivy and Reggie Joiner’s Parenting Your Ninth Grader and Parenting Your Tenth Grader available on www.parentcuestore.org and should not be construed as providing specific psychiatric, psychological, or medical advice, but rather to offer readers information to better understand the lives and health of themselves and their children. It is not intended to provide an alternative to professional treatment or to replace the services of a physician, psychiatrist, or psychotherapist.