Monthly Series for Parents of High School Seniors: December
Note: each month we're giving parents of seniors a spiritually encouraging "checklist" to capture the best moments from senior year. Sign up to automatically get a full year's worth of memory-making ideas, plus these articles as monthly emails HERE.
December: Celebrating the last Christmas
Okay—so that headline admittedly makes things sound a bit dramatic. This isn’t the LAST Christmas. God willing, you’ll have many, many years of Christmases spent together in the future. But this is the last Christmas before your teen will be coming home for Christmas rather than just being home.
You’ll feel the difference—trust me.
Because of this, I don’t think I have to tell you to let it all soak in. In fact, now is a good year to resurrect some of those favorite holiday traditions that you used to do but have moved away from for whatever reason. This will be hard because schedules are busy, so express your wishes and expectations clearly to your teen and schedule hard dates and times on the calendar. They may grumble a little, but I give you permission to put your parenting foot down and say, “This is Christmas and we’re going to have good time whether you like it or not!” I'm confident they will have a good time, and you'll make tons of new memories together.
3 Ideas for December
A memory to capture: Well, Christmas stuff, obviously
You already know what your favorite traditions are. Do them. Take pictures. Savor the moments. Also, I find that December photo challenges give me good ideas for how to live in the moment and make memories of everyday small things during the season (even if I don't actually take photos). Search “December photo challenge” on Pinterest to see what I mean.
A conversation to have: “On a scale of 1-10, how would you rank how anxious you are right now?
In the midst of holiday festivities, there’s another very real thing likely happening with your teen: Anxiety. December is the culmination of a lot of important deadlines, including finals and FAFSA, and they’re feeling the pressure. All of these pending changes and preparations are necessary (and can be exciting), but transition is stressful no matter how good it is.
I know you’re constantly monitoring your teen’s emotions, but this month take it a step further and talk frequently and openly about stress and anxiety. Then pray and solve problems together.
A life skill to teach: Stress management
It’s probably not hard for me to persuade you that learning to manage and reduce stress is an important life skill. (Maybe a skill you’re practicing right now?) Share with your teen the techniques that have worked for you, and remind them about the basics: The importance of sleep, take deep breaths, and physical activity. Also, remember that prayer is a powerful tool to help us let go of our worries, and that it’s normal to come back again and again to Jesus during days when we’re feeling heavy-laden. Encourage your teen (and yourself) that Jesus gives peace when we ask.
A verse to reflect on this month:
Philippians 4:6-7: Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus
Next up: January—the final semester begins.