Time to get ready!
I must admit I'm just not ready. I'm not ready for my first baby to be all grown up! Sajwa is officially a senior in high school. She now has her driving permit and has been so excited about driving my car everywhere we go. She has also landed her first job as a certified nursing assistant and it seems like everything is happening all at once. Like I woke up and she was just BIG! Lately, I’ve found myself staring at her in the same way I did when she was a newborn. She’s changing before my eyes, and I worry have I done enough to prepare her for whats ahead of her. This upcoming school year I would like to create more memories with my First Baby and enjoy these young adult milestones, I don't want to get anxious over test scores and transcripts and acceptances or declines—or to feel anxious about trying to skip those things all together. I must face the facts that the time has come and we must all live in the here and now. Most parents feel an extra special bond with their first child. The one who caused you to mature and truly become an adult. Sajwa and I are very close and we spend a lot of time together. I keep reminding myself that this stage of life is not as difficult as it seems. But just one little chapter in a much longer story. Ya Allah give me strength!
How can families prepare their soon to be graduates for doing well when they finish highschool?!
We have to tell ourselves that Parenting is the art of preparing children to be adults. Consistently helping our highschoolers to keep their eyes on the bigger picture, is most important. Talking supportively with teens helps them to handle the challenges they may face. Reminding them why they are here, and why they do what they do. How their unique talents and abilities were perfectly selected for them to carry out all the great work that needs to be done. Reassure them that there’s nothing a school or a scholarship committee or a test score or a hiring manager can determine without Allah's decree. Have them make time for spiritual growth and activities that build character like volunteering. Let them come face to face with others who have far less than they have so they can appreciate all that Allah has provided for them. Try not to let them get too caught up in this Dunya's standard of success. When I see Saj, getting overwhelmed by her grades or obsessing about her teacher's remarks on a test. I pull her away from it for awhile. I appreciate her diligence in her school work but there is much more to life than formal education. "When was the last time the youth group distributed hygiene kits for the homeless?" I ask. Find ways to draw their attention to other things that will bring them meaningful fulfillment.
Teach them good communication skills. I have noticed while working with teens, that many of them lack in proper communication. The ability to talk collaboratively with people in college or in the work place, begins with learning to talk collaboratively at home. Parents who model for their teenagers how to live in a cooperative family structure are therefore teaching their teens a core economic survival skill.
Teens who have part time jobs, or who use their non-school hours volunteering, will have a higher likelihood of being able to earn a living when they graduate. Since most college admissions officers and employers are looking for young adults with experience, students who have run a lawn-mowing, baby sitting service or website design service have a leg up on those who spent their time hanging out at the mall. Writing for a school newspaper can develop writing skills, A part-time job in a store can build communication skills, volunteering at a local charity will boost confidence and teach interpersonal skills. All these opportunities will give our children initial exposure to the world of higher education and good work ethics.
The options open to our children are vast and they may change their minds along the way, but they have to do something! Don't allow your children to busy themselves with idol time, scrolling social media feeds or playing video games. As long as they remain in your home, require them to be productive with their time. They can choose to attend a traditional four-year university—or they could choose to take classes online, or to enroll at a community college, or to enroll at a technical school.
They could get a partime job, while they are in school. They may choose to seek out full time work. They could enroll in a Qari program and memorize the Quran or study Ahadith. They could write a novel, travel and wait tables on the side. They could become an entrepreneur. They could pursue marriage all at the same time as those mentioned above. They could do anything, as long as it's positive and productive.
There will be a lot of details and goals to keep track of as they get older. I have given Sajwa the task of keeping up with her own schedule and deadlines. She makes her appointments and updates the family calendar. Yes, my daughter may be the one doing all the OBVIOUS hard things, like taking tests and writing college application essays and figuring out how to map out her next few years of life. But the parents are ALSO doing hard things. We’re helping our children imagine a prosperous, future, we’re teaching them to walk forward with hearts full of love, hope and fear of Allah! We’re learning how to let go. An for any attached parents, that's the hardest job of all.