Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Something to Muench on: Life lessons for back to school

“How is Target literally out of red pens during the height of Back-to-School season?!” I can just hear the exasperated parent swearing under their breath while standing dumbfounded in the aisle with only one more stink’n item to get on their school supply list.

Like me, in previous years, they are silently kicking themselves for not ordering the premade-grade-specific kit from the school supply company that would be delivered right to the school. “How did I delude myself into thinking school supply shopping in August with the kids would be fun??”

Yes, once again, it’s time to head to Kohls to purchase those squeaky white tennies, dress-code-appropriate-length shorts, and cute fall sweatshirt everyone knows you won’t put on your body until at least November.

Ring the bell, it’s Back to School!

Most parents I know are cheering, some are counting the minutes, though some might actually be savoring every moment of summer and not wanting their kids to return to the classroom. Whatever the case, we’ve got to face it, early morning rush and homework are right around the corner.

Before the drop off line gets into full swing, I’d like to impart a little wisdom, as a mom of five who (at this point) will only have a junior daughter at home come the first day of school.

And that is this: Encourage your kids to take pride in who they are and to chart their own course this year as they head back into the school building.

As human beings it’s natural to want to be part of the crowd. Our kids want to fit in, and there’s nothing wrong with that, unless, in an effort to do so, they become who others want them to be instead of developing their unique qualities, talents, skills and abilities.

Others includes us.

Parents (myself included), often unconsciously, want to make sure our kids are “checking all the boxes” and not falling behind or veering off the well-oiled path. We want our kids to be accepted and sometimes we dress them or push them into activities that we feel will help them. Yet each of our children comes into the world to walk a path meant just for them. And what they might encounter in terms of life lessons along the way, be it through their academics, extracurriculars, or their friendships is largely out of our control. Though, admittedly, we like to delude ourselves into thinking we have the right to be in the driver’s seat.

As long as they are appropriately covered, let them choose their wardrobe. If they want to head out the door in shorts on a 33-degree day, let them. If they want to dip their hair in Kool-Aid because “red tips are all the rage” let them (with supervision of course, because this can be a messy project…) If they’ve played six years of baseball and want to change course, let.it.go. I know it could mean a scholarship, but what amount of money is going to replace the disconnect you have with your son? That is a bigger ticket item.

Children, especially as they head into middle and high school, need to develop autonomy. They can’t do that by following the crowd or our wishes for who we want them to become. Our role as they begin to make more and more choices for themselves is to encourage the safe ventures and support them by allowing the natural consequences to happen when they mess up. We all did it, which is why we’ve got the amazing character and resilience and grit we have today, right?

Enjoy the last few days of pool time! And, if you still need that pack of red pens, I’ll be happy to share some with you, I bought extra last year.

Kimberly Muench
Kimberly Muenchhttps://reallifeparentguide.com/
Kim Muench is a Flower Mound mother of five kiddos. She is a certified parent coach who loves working with moms and dads of adolescents to build stronger, healthier connections in their home. To learn more, visit her website at www.reallifeparentguide.com.

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