Equipping + energising parents and carers
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Surviving Year 12

Part 1: Supporting teens and their parents through the final year of school.

The final exams. The end of school. The gateway to Uni, TAFE, work, success, fame, stardom. 

This. Is. It.

The final year of school is possibly our most hyped up, stress-inducing, joyless, infuriating rite of passage we dutifully put ourselves and our youth through.

How can we look after those who are facing down these exams?

How can we parent well during this year?

As a Director of Youthworks HSC Study Conferences, of course I think you should register your teen for one of these camps!  But what else can you do? 

In these two articles, I want to suggest six things to help you navigate a wise and Godly path through your child’s final year of school. Here's the first three!

1. You’re not parenting alone

You and your teenager need backup and, ideally, in the church, you have it.  You need a few people who you can talk to about parenting (not necessarily fellow parents or the same age as you); people who will listen, encourage you from the Bible, and commit to praying for you and your children. If you only had this kind of support when your children were babies, or if you’ve never had these kind of relationships, talk to a pastor and seek it out. 

You don’t have to experience the struggles and fears of parenting by yourselves. You don’t have to feel like your success as parents will be determined by how well your child does at the end of school.  What a privilege that we have one another and the Lord Jesus. Have a look at Hebrews 4:14-16, and consider Jesus, who is able to empathise with our weaknesses, and through whom we can approach God the Father with boldness, finding mercy and grace.

2. Your child is not alone

Your son or daughter needs the support of someone who isn’t their peer and who isn’t their parent.  A friend who has seen a couple of teens through the HSC recently said to me, “having significant others outside parentals is pretty much crucial.”  One of the greatest joys of being part of a healthy church community is the opportunity for intergenerational friendships and support.

Can you think of someone, perhaps in their 20's or 30's, who might be able to invest some time your teen’s life? This could be a youth leader, a single or married person. Ideally, it should be someone (or a couple) who loves Jesus, who will listen, encourage from the Bible, and commit to praying. 

If your year 12er is spending all their time with peers, then they are missing out on the opportunity to grow.

3. We're all in this together

Something happens when a student enters their final year of school: adults stop talking to them about anything but their final year of school.  Ask any 17-year-old which three questions every adult asks them and they will tell you:

1. “How is the HSC going?”
2. “What subjects are you doing?” 
3. “What do want to do next year?”

We can do better!  How are our youth going to believe us when we tell them this school year isn’t the defining moment of their life, if it’s the only thing we ask them about all year? Can you think of some other things to talk about? How about the sermon you just heard at church? Or that blog link they just posted? Or the footy game from last night? Or what they learnt at the youth camp they just went on? 

Get to know what is going on in their life and what they are passionate about, other than the addition of surds or the second act of King Lear. In your conversations, figure out how you can encourage them to keep trusting Jesus in day to day life, or, if they’re not a Christian, to actually start trusting in Jesus.

While Year 12 can bring a lot of stress, it's also a great time to encourage students to be trusting in God when life gets challenging. Learning to do that will be even more helpful later in life than getting a good result in their exams!

Click here to continue reading Part 2 in this series...

Anna Boxwell studied at Moore College and currently lives in Canberra where she is part of Lanyon Valley Anglican Church.  She is about to direct her fifth Youthworks HSC Study Conference.

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