As high school students contemplate college and attempt to navigate the challenges of high school life, parents must be clear about their role. The primary role of a high school parent is to consistently offer loving encouragement, support and guidance.

“My father and mother stand behind me.
They show me that they care.
But once in a while they remind me
That my decisions can give them a scare.”

Loving parents play a critical role in the development of the young adults who will succeed in college, career and life endeavors. It is during the high school years that students begin to find their way in life. They discover their interests, aptitudes, goals and dreams. When parents take a genuine interest in the discovery process, the bond between parents and children can be greatly strengthened.

Parents who have a good relationship with their children can strengthen that relationship when they:

1. Learn About And Try To Understand The Hopes And Dreams Of Each Child - You can’t
effectively support your children when you don’t understand where they are trying to go.
Whatever their dream may be, parents should find ways to help them learn more about it. By helping the student expand his/her perspective, students will make better decisions about their goals and direction.

Effective parents position themselves as allies in discovery. They offer input, ideas and suggestions but don’t always try to control the direction or goals. Smart parents remember back to their own experiences and realize that life is not a straight line. We meander; and as we learn, we change direction. It is part of growing up.

Parents who try to impose exact control are usually resented. Therefore, if the student is
moving in any positive direction, parents should try to support them. When parents expect and demand that their children be like them, disappointment and anger will often
follow. Each child must become his/her own person and find their own path to their dreams. For many parents, that is a difficult lesson.

2. Listen With Empathy - Things don’t always go well. That’s why it is important for parents
to be there when their children need them. Importantly, parents should be prepared to
listen in a non-judgmental way and show empathy. Overly harsh criticism at the time of a
serious disappointment or crisis may drive you apart.

Savvy parents try to listen in a way that shows their children that they care. When a child
expresses his/her feelings and frustrations, parents should look for the positives and help
them see other options and alternatives. Parents shouldn’t take it personally, if the child
seems angry with them.

The next day, or when things calm down, parents should make it clear that they are on the
same side and want only the best for their children. However, minor disappointments are
part of life. Parents can help their children find the strength to look for alternatives and find
other paths. However, at this stage of a child's life, it is no longer the parent’s role to try to
fix every little problem. Parents should encourage children to pick themselves up, learn
from the experience, move in a new direction and try again. That’s how children mature.

3. Provide Active Support - The most effective parents are usually active in their child’s
school life. They belong to the PTA, attend school sports, activities and events, go to parent conferences, help with homework and coach their children through minor difficulties.

When the student is planning to go to college, supportive parents help with research on
colleges that offer the right major, financial aid, work-study programs and then accompany the student on campus tours, They also remind the student of obligations and deadlines.
However, since “help” doesn’t mean doing everything for them, the student should take the lead and parents should play a supportive role.

Disinterested students are unlikely to get excited about a college that their parents have
selected for them. If the student isn’t actively involved with the college search process, they are less likely to succeed in college.

4. Encourage Student Performance - The first of all rules for parents is to model the attitude,
behavior and performance you want from your children. Students seldom improve their
performance and behavior based on a “do as I say, not as I do” approach.

“Encouragement will always have a positive effect.”

Successful parents frequently use words of encouragement and supportive actions to show their children how to make improvements. They show their love and cheer their children on to perform at their best. Even when that performance falls short, they offer encouragement and support. These parents understand that their children will not be good at everything. Therefore, they encourage their children to explore their interests, do their best and try to learn how to do better next time.

Effective parents encourage their children to broaden their experiences by participating in
school clubs, sports and activities. They recognize that part-time work and community
activities can be an effective way to expose their children to the real world. These personal
experiences frequently motivate students to do better in school and can help them identify a potential direction.

Parents play an important role. When they align themselves with their child’s hopes and dreams, a powerful team is formed. Students are more likely to reach their full potential when their parents actively support their direction and goals. Therefore, smart parents support their children whenever they are moving in a positive direction and mean it when they say, “I believe in you.”

Visit Bob’s web site: Bob Roth is the author of The 4 Realities Of Success During and After College -and- The College Student’s Guide To Landing A Great Job.

Author's Bio: 

Bob Roth, a former campus recruiter, is the author of The College Student's Guide To Landing A Great Job -and- The 4 Realities Of Success During and After College. Known as The "College & Career Success” Coach, Bob also writes articles for more than 200 College Career Services Offices, Campus Newspapers, Parent Associations and Employment Web Sites. Additionally, Bob has developed 20 Self-Scoring Learning Tools that help college students find success. He has been interviewed on numerous radio programs across the country and also by many newspapers, including The Wall Street Journal. Lastly, Bob has served as an Adjunct at Marist College, teaching a course in Career Development.