It’s here! The time of year parents may love or hate. You might love it because your kids need some structure and you’ve run out of ways to entertain them. The vacation is done. Lemonade stands have closed for the year. There have been numerous trips to the beach, the water park, and perhaps the doctor and dentist to get caught up on physicals and teeth cleanings. You might dislike this time of year because it brings a lot of challenges for your child. No matter how you feel about it, it’s time for school to begin.
While kids are generally excited—even though they don’t admit it—I think some parents have mixed emotions about the start of school. If your child does well academically and is involved in some kind of sport or extra-curricular activity, there is probably a lot for you to look forward to. Attending your child’s events, reconnecting with all of the other parents whose kids are also involved, dreaming about your child’s bright future and all of the possibilities. If they’re in high school, you may have spent the summer visiting colleges. And soon, that difficult question of where they will attend college will finally be answered! There are many reasons to be excited.
But while you are reveling in that excitement, just be sensitive to the fact that it’s not that way for everyone. There are parents whose children have learning disabilities, who don’t have many friends, or who are battling a mental health or physical health issue. These parents dread September. Because, in some ways, it magnifies the struggles their child is facing.
So, I’m asking you to tread lightly before you blurt out your child’s accomplishments or honors class schedule to the parent you don’t know standing next to you at orientation. Learn their story and be sensitive with what you share about your child if you know it may be hard for them to hear.
If you’re the parent whose child is struggling, remember that school isn’t the litmus test of their abilities or gifts. Resist the urge to compare, and embrace their uniqueness. Hopefully, this helps you win more often at home.