What I want my freshly minted high school teen to know : A letter
ADHD, Parenting, Teenagers

5 Life Lessons For My Newly Minted High Schooler

Dear D,

You recently started grade 9, which means you now are in High School. In the American school system, you would be called a ‘freshman at high school’. Sounds big and important, doesn’t it? Well, it is!

Being in ‘high school’ comes with increased responsibility, which I know you are capable of.  As a mom, who has (just a little) more life experience than you do, I do want to share a few things with you.

I understand that the parenting game changes seriously once you enter high school. You no longer want me around. You would rather be with your friends, your phone or your other devices than with your parents.

You probably think of us as just your source of money and some comfort. Even though we are trying to teach you ways to make you understand about money, you still do depend on us.

Want to know how to teach your kids about money? Here is what you need to do to help your teens become financially literate to make the transition to college and beyond.

However, we do have responsibilities that go beyond providing for you. This includes preparing you for your life to come. Things that we have learned over the years and would like you to know. So here goes 🙂

Stay True to Yourself

Stay true to your values. We raised you with a certain set of values. You know what these are. Always remember them, stay true to them and they will serve you well.

If you let these values be your counselors when you are in doubt, for you will often be at crossroads, you will make the right choice. So, always remember these and use them as your guiding principles in times of need.

Stay true to who you are. High school can be tumultuous. Friends will tend to stereotype you. They will label you. You may be termed by one of your physical features or a single personality trait. You may be called by horrendous names like fatso, studious, a jerk, a geek, a loser, fashionista or what not.

Let that not bother you! You know you cannot be described by one word.  Your personality is like an onion, it has many layers.  Your friends have only seen the outer layer and describing that. There is more to you beneath that.

These labels tend to be exaggerations, if not outright shaming. Even (and, maybe, more so) if they are done for fun, these can be hurtful and certainly do not represent you.

You know yourself the best. Your friends do not. So, let the labeling and naming not affect you, bother you or typecast you. Most of all don’t let it change you.

You are an original. An original is priceless. Do not become a copy.

Stay away from temptations. There will be many. Trying to smoke, breaking school rules, pushing boundaries set by us (for we love you), having sex – the list is endless.

There are many reasons that will make you want to do these things – you want to try out, you felt pressurized by your friends, you got carried away by the moment, you just wanted to experience the thrill.

But there will always be a voice in your head that will tell you not to do it. That is your inner voice, the voice of reason, of your conscience and of your values.

Listen to that voice. It is telling you the right thing. If you ignore it, chances are you will regret it later.

An ADHD brain is always looking for stimulation. The chances that an ADHDer will succumb to such temptations are higher. Having said that, I know you to be a very reasonable, strong-willed person who can do anything if she is so determined to do. I know, you WILL pay heed to that voice when it tells you not to do something.

top 5 life lessons for my newly minted high schooler

Work Hard, Play Harder

I know you are working hard. It is because you recognize that hard work is the key to success.

Though sometimes you may forget this basic simple maxim. That is okay. That is why God made parents. To remind you of the importance of hard work and bring you back on track, before you stray away too far.

As parents, we are so grateful that you have the motivation to succeed and are willing to work hard to achieve your goals.  You realize the importance of these crucial years; how important they are in contributing to who you are and who you will become in the future.

What I want to tell you is to make most of the time you have. Use your time wisely.

Use this time to explore different things, to develop your interests, your talents, and your views.

You are lucky to be in a school that gives you so many opportunities. Be it theatre, public speaking, debating, MUN, dance, music, quizzing, girl guides, art, sculpture, photography, science, technology and social service. Make maximum use of these opportunities.

Give each of these a chance so that you know what your interests are, where your talents lie. Whether you win or lose, even by participating you are the beneficiary. You are certainly building your confidence and maybe even acquiring a new skill.

While your studies come first, sports and physical activity do NOT come second. They are equally important.

Along with this, I am sending you a lovely article which tells you how sports helps you develop social and life skills that will help you in various areas of your life. Skills such as teamwork, following directions, task focus, ability to cope with failure and success.

Sleep on time and wake up on time. I am not necessarily asking you (a teenager with ADHD) to go against your circadian clock. What I am saying is get adequate rest so that you can give your best during the day.

Put in that extra effort, in your studies, in your activities, in your sports, and in your relationships.

Make the most of the time you have. You will reap the benefits from it. (and don’t forget to thank me when you do)

Friends Matter

Who you hang out with is really important. So, take time to pick out the right friends:

Friends who have the same or similar values as you do.

Friends who do not try to make you feel little.

Friends who do not need you to constantly boost their ego.

Friends who bring out the best in you.

Friends who challenge you to do your better and better each time.

Friends who do not waste your time.

Friends who you have fun with.

Friends who do not care if you are fat or thin, rich or poor, but like you for being you.

Friends who understand you.

Friends you do not try and change you.

and you must be the same too.

Also, remember you will outgrow people and they will outgrow you. That is okay.

There are times you may feel betrayed by your friends. Don’t take it to heart. It is fine to feel sad, angry and have all those emotions. After all, you did invest in that relationship. Try to move on. That person wasn’t meant for you, even if she was your best friend or the most popular one.

Between being respected and being liked, always choose being respected. Likes are for social media. You are not social media. Likes are ephemeral.

Respect is harder to acquire and permanent. You deserve respect.

If you have to let go of a friend to earn respect, so be it.

Nothing is permanent. There may be a time when you feel totally alone, maybe even ostracized. If you know you have done nothing wrong, you have nothing to worry about. The friends who truly value you will find their way back to you. These tough times are just test of who your real friends are.

Stay Confident. Stay Humble

You are a smart girl. You are funny, hard working and so much more.

My girl has so many qualities that I admire. Qualities that make me breathe easy, knowing she is on the right track. Find out what these traits are. (p.s. your child may have them, too).

Remember you CAN DO it. You know you are bright and intelligent.

Always have faith in your abilities. If you are doubting yourself, STOP. If you find that voice in your head telling you that you can’t do something, tell it to take a chill pill. Try saying, ‘let me try one more time and find a way to do it.’

Do not give up anything without trying.

At the same time, do not be overconfident. If things suddenly appear to be very simple for no apparent reason, well they aren’t!

Stay humble. Learn from your mistakes. Own your mistakes. No one is perfect. All of us are learning.

Life Is Not Always Fair

There are times you will feel cheated. A teacher may have a favorite student or (worse still), always blame you for everything that happens. It isn’t fair. It hurts. I know.

Guess what? Unfair things happen to everybody equally. Which kind of makes life fair, in its own strange way. Do you agree?

As you grow, you will find that these ‘unfair’ things happen more and more. Wanted to warn you so that you are prepared.

Maybe this is not what you want to hear from me. But hey girl, just letting you know that life isn’t a fairy tale. I want you to be prepared. I want you to be strong. Sorry, to burst your bubble girl.

However biased things may be, you are the one that has to pick up the pieces and move on. The faster you do it, the stronger you emerge.

I am not saying that you accept injustice. What I am saying is choose your battles wisely.

And at the same time, work hard for success, but be prepared for failure.

Working hard and preparing involves evaluating things and planning.

Have a plan. Have a backup plan.Then see if you need to have a back-up to the backup plan.

Evaluate the risks and rewards of your actions. Don’t rush in or be impulsive – which your ADHD brain may sometime get you to do.

And finally, if you are not sure, ask for help.

You know we are and will always be there for you! 

Hey there,

  • Do you agree or disagree with something I tell my 9th grader?
  • Is there anything else you would like your high schooler to know?

Do let me know in the comments below. I would love to hear from you.

Thank you.



4 thoughts on “5 Life Lessons For My Newly Minted High Schooler”

  1. Great advice! My daughter will be a senior next year and my son graduated nearly 2 years ago. I pour my heart to them as I send them on into their lives. There are many lessons I hope they can learn vicariously through our past mistakes, but all we can do is share, like you, and hope our messages take route. Thanks for sharing.


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