Submitted by Paula Preschlack
Last Thursday afternoon, Nan Barrett and Haley Tate spoke with a group of eight mothers whose adolescents are about to, or recently did, graduate from Forest Bluff School. The topic was, “Out Into the World…Now What?” In other words, once our adolescents have left Forest Bluff, what advice might help us to raise them successfully through the high school years?
Nan and Haley had a wealth of anecdotes to draw on. Nan has two daughters who are in their late twenties, and Haley has two sons who are college students, so we heard about the dynamics of parenting both genders, as well as different personalities. Most of the mothers present already have high school-age offspring, so they had suggestions and insights to add, as well as their own questions. Three of us, who are still in the “protected environment” of the Secondary Level, had many questions and were grateful for new information coming from trusted friends. All of the topics you might expect were discussed: Social life, dating, sex, drugs, parties, and communicating with adolescents as they navigate this stage of life.
Some of the main take-aways from the discussion were: Make your home a safe haven, spend time with your teenagers, make eye contact, and talk with them in a way that communicates authority, respect and compassion. Perhaps most importantly, Nan and Haley gave great advice on how to talk with teens about their mistakes and how to deliver fair consequences. It was an uplifting afternoon of laughter and heartfelt sharing, and I think we each left with the strong sense that we can count on each other in the future for more support and ideas.
My hope is that we can offer more such gatherings for our alumni parents. It was wonderful to connect alumni parents with current Forest Bluff parents, and to gather as a small group who share a common history and the foundation of Montessori values. Thank you Nan and Haley!