Your high school senior is king or queen of all he or she sees. But that will soon change. High school is over. The college decision has been made: Whether to attend and where. The lingering remnants of summer remain. And, as the new academic year begins to dawn, your child knows there is something new, strange and somewhat foreboding that will shake his or her royal throne.
Your kingly son or queenly daughter is about to meet a few new characters -- competition, change, uncertainty and fear. Your daughter won't let on that she's plagued by these new friends entering her life. Your son won't find any comfort in other students because they are all pretending to have it together. But truly, for the first time in a long time, your teen will feel young, dumb, confused, dazed and stupid.
Your daughter may spend increasing amounts of time with her high school friends as the feelings of loss strengthen. Your son may retreat into his room for amazingly long periods of time. Teens can become uncommunicative, moody and distant as they deal with the loss of their royal status and begin to face life as plebeians. Yes, young, dumb, confused, dazed and stupid.
These feelings may seem vaguely familiar because your teen probably felt that way as a high school freshman. The feelings may feel familiar to you, too, from your days as a first-time dad, or your first professional job, or your own first day in college. You didn't know where the buildings were, who the professors were or what the classes would be like.
Unfortunately, it happens to us throughout our lives. If we are open to new experiences and growth, which we should be, there are times when we will feel young, dumb, confused, dazed and stupid. It can happen with any new challenge, a major purchase, a new job, a big test. It's the uncertainty that sets in as we face new obstacles and opportunities.
Here are a few ways you can help your student deal with this identity crisis as college looms:
• Be prepared. Listen for cues to your child's awareness of the change in his or her life. Be sensitive to his concerns. Don't tease, challenge or dismiss her worries.
• Express your own challenges. Let your teen know when you were uncertain, afraid or worried that you wouldn't make the grade or meet the challenge.
• Your child shall overcome. Remind her of times when she successfully took on a challenge, when he rode out his fears, when she succeeded in spite of her worries or when he overcame serious doubts. Let your student know that, even though other kids may not look worried, most of them are, they're just working hard to present a calm and cool exterior.
• Be the anchor. Let your teen know that you can be counted on for your support. That may be the best message of all.
Tom Tozer and Bill Black are authors of the book "Dads2Dads: Tools for Raising Teenagers." Like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter at dads2dadsllc.com. Contact them at tomandbill@Dads2Dadsllc.com.