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June-July 2022

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Thirteen Ways Moms Can Prepare Daughters for the Next School Year

Summer School

By Elizabeth Hill


Being a preteen or a teen is tough. Add in school, with all the ups and downs accompanying it, and it becomes even tougher. You know it, I know it, and your daughter really knows it. So, what can you do to help your daughter thrive in school? No one wants to think about school in the summer, but truthfully, the months off are the best time to prepare for the coming year.

It pains me to say I’m not a teenager anymore, and I hate to admit it’s been a good while since I was. Thankfully, my school years are not such ancient history that I’ve forgotten everything. I remember both the pain and excitement of surviving middle school and high school.

With that in mind, here are 13 suggestions to help your daughter. Many come from my own parents. And, yes, I called my mom to talk these over with her. I’ll never be too old for that.

  1. Help your daughter study. Mom would quiz me for tests, and it always made me feel better prepared. Of course, your daughter needs to develop individual studying skills, but reviewing test material together is a great way to bond and to help you keep up with what she is learning.

  2. Encourage excellence and effort, not perfection. From schoolwork to extracurricular activities, or leadership roles, teach your daughter to put in the work to do her best. However, don’t demand perfection. Excellence is giving your best effort with the time, resources, and skills you have. Perfection is pushing beyond reasonable limits to attain the highest possible outcome. Of course, you want your daughter to do her best, but you don’t want her to burn out in an endless quest to be the best. Help her find a proper balance.

  3. Support extracurricular activities. Go to games and recitals. Cheer her on. Let her know you’re proud of her.

  4. Share your own stories. While your experiences won’t necessarily be the same as your daughter’s, she will benefit from your tales of success, failure, excitement, heartbreak, and embarrassment. Your stories will help your daughter relate to you and give her reassurance someone else understands what she’s feeling.

  5. Let your daughter know she can talk to you about anything, including the hard and embarrassing stuff. I can only imagine what girls face in school right now, with so much change over the last few years. Your daughter needs someone in her corner to tell her the truth. Be approachable, not condemning. Cultivate a relationship where she feels safer coming to you with questions rather than going to the Internet, friends, magazines, or teachers.

  6. Be willing to talk about relationships. Your daughter has a natural desire for relationship; it’s part of every girl’s DNA. Whether friendships, sibling relationships, crushes, or boyfriends, she is searching for love and acceptance. Walk beside her as relationships change. Share godly wisdom and personal experience. She needs someone to talk to, and the best person is you.

  7. Teach your daughter to present herself well. She wants to make a good impression, and you can help her do that. Learning practical things like good hygiene, makeup techniques, and flattering hair styles will build her self-confidence tremendously. Help your daughter find clothes that both make her feel confident and demonstrate her self-respect.

  8. Eat together as a family. I do not remember many meals at home I didn’t share with my family. You may not get much out of her at breakfast (especially if your daughter is anything like me). But consistent, shared mealtimes provide her daily opportunities to share what’s going on in her life.

  9. Don’t treat her like she’s still a little kid. Grant a measure of freedom. Let her take the car to school or to get coffee with friends. As much as you want (and need) to be a part of your daughter’s life, she also needs time on her own to develop independence. And that’s a good thing! You don’t want her living with you forever, do you? She needs to be prepared for the quickly approaching, after-high-school years.

  10. Provide stability and set expectations. Sure, I just encouraged you to give your daughter freedom, but she also needs to know someone is in charge. While she may gripe and complain about your rules, she can’t deny the safety and protection that comes with knowing her godly, consistent parents are leading the family with integrity. Your daughter needs to know the boundaries. Within those boundaries, she will find greater freedom to live, grow, and mature.

  11. Don’t teach your daughter middle/high school is the “high point” of life. Let her know every stage of life comes with joy, excitement, fears, and challenges. Yes, encourage your daughter to soak it all in, but don’t create added stress by urging her to “make the most of high school.” She can enjoy these years while also looking forward to good things to come.

  12. Help her as she plans her future. If your daughter wants to go to college, help her think through her plans, and then find and apply for scholarships. However, there’s no need to push college as the only option. She may have other goals or dreams that don’t require college, and that’s okay. The most important thing is she follows a God-
    honoring path that complements the skills and abilities
    He has given her.

  13. Let your daughter fight some hard battles. Don’t always clean up her messes (literally or metaphorically). Always be there to love and guide her through difficulties. She should not face major problems on her own, but you should not always jump in and take care of everything. Let her figure out things on her own. If she never has to learn new and challenging things, or if she never faces consequences for her actions, she will be stuck in a rut, waiting for someone to fix it for her. Kids with helicopter parents are in for a brutal awakening when they finally encounter difficulty on their own. Don’t set your daughter up for that kind of failure.

Of course, this is not an exhaustive list. Your daughter is unique, and so are her challenges. As a mom, you have a God-given place of influence in your daughter’s life. The things you share now will stay with her forever. Don’t forget you’re human, too. You won’t always have the right answers or the past experiences to help her with what she’s going through. When you’re not sure what to do or how to help, model and share the truths of God’s Word. His Word never changes, and His truths will always apply.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but another school year is only weeks away. Pray and prepare now, and with God’s grace and your loving guidance, your daughter can face another school year with joy and anticipation, confident God is using each experience for His glory and her good.

About the Author: Elizabeth Hill graduated from Welch College in 2015 with a degree in elementary education. As the daughter of both a former principal and guidance counselor, she has witnessed firsthand the benefits of parental support through a child’s school years. She is a member of Sylvan Park FWB Church where she is active in student ministry. She is a member of the Free Will Baptist Executive Office team.

©2022 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists