Things I Wish My Parents Taught Me, But Didn’t

Of the four lists, this one intrigued me the most. We all want our children to have the best experiences in high school. We tell them to make friends, have fun, and learn a lot; but do we give them the tools they need to do this successfully? Are we surprised when they come home crying? Do we believe them when they say they don’t have homework? Do we give them the skills they need to get the most out of their education?

As a teacher, I witness the friend problems; I see how many students wait until the last day to turn in classwork and essays; I have students who won’t say a word to me all year unless I talk to them first. Do parents really leave these lessons up to fate? Do they throw their children into the pool and hope they learn to swim? We must, because students are saying they had to learn most of these lessons the hard way.

The question is how do we teach our children in the early years, so these skills are habits by the difficult teenage years?

I Wish You Would Have Taught Me This about Procrastination

  • Don’t procrastinate! (x4)
  • Procrastination is not key.
  • How not to procrastinate. (x2) This word kills me inside.
  • I learned that procrastinating is bad; it will screw up everything!
  • Procrastination destroys.
  • Being lazy is terrible. It makes me feel like a terrible, slack-off person when I know I am not.

I Wish You Would Have Taught Me This about Socialization

  • Things that go on in high school.
  • People do care about me.
  • Sometimes people just don’t like you, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
  • Everyone has problems; some people are just better at hiding them.
  • School is easier when you’re a loner.
  • That during your teenage years, many things are not as big and important as they seem.
  • Don’t wear clothes you’re not comfortable with at home in public.
  • Not saying anything is far better than saying something stupid. (Somehow, I continue to forget and re-learn this.)

 I Wish You Would Have Taught Me This about Making Friends

  • How to make friends. (x2)
  • That true friends must always come first. Fake friends and boyfriends/girlfriends come and go.
  • Don’t be afraid to branch out and make new friends.
  • Always be nice, you never know what someone is going through.
  • Good friends will always support you.
  • If you have a problem with someone, talk to him or her.

I Wish You Would Have Taught Me How to Protect Myself

  • Watch out for people who are not really there for you.
  • A lot of people are unreasonable.
  • I can’t always rely on others for help.
  • People you think will never hurt you, always do.
  • Everyone you’re nice to is not going to be nice back.
  • People have to earn your trust, because unless it is earned, people can easily betray it.
  • Friends aren’t always who they appear to be.
  • Not everyone keeps promises.
  • There will always be people there trying to stop you.
  • How to deal with ignorant people.
  • You can’t trust very many people.
  • How to say “No” better. (x2)
  • How to be the bigger man and walk away from a fight.
  • How to fight…
  • Never go against your values ever!

I Wish You Would Have Taught Me This about Drama

  • Drama is unavoidable in high school.
  • I wish that my parents would have taught me that there will be drama in high school and how to deal with it.
  • Save the drama for your mama!

I Wish You Would Have Taught Me This about Life

  • How to get a life.
  • I wish my parents had taught me how to branch out. I came into high school very shy, and it was hard for me to get to know people in a huge school where I did not know anyone.
  • I wish I had not been so sheltered as a child. It isn’t that I am not glad I was sheltered; it has just led me to some embarrassing moments because I did not know what people were talking about.
  • How to keep conversations going.
  • How to speak up in a crowded room.
  • How to be outgoing.

I Wish You Have Taught Me This about Tough Times

  • Mistakes are necessary to grow.
  • What it’s like to lose a good friend.
  • How to keep going when the days get rough.
  • High school is harder than you expect.
  • Prepare for the worst and expect the least.
  • Don’t stress over the small things.
  • Don’t give up right away; persevere.
  • People are always going to put you down, but it is your job to keep yourself going.

I Wish You Would Have Taught Me This about Education

  • Organizing time wisely. (x4)
  • Time management. (x2)
  • Dedication/passion and determination about something I love or want to do.
  • Have a passion for reading.
  • Keep track of all assignments so they all get done.
  • I learned that you absolutely have to study, even if you think you know what you are doing, you need that refresher.
  • Should have done ceramics alllll through high school.
  • Keep a positive attitude.
  • Do all work you signed up for even if it’s hard.
  • Shift and Enter keys make it hard to type lists.
  • Don’t put 100% into an assignment if it means another assignment won’t get done.
  • Study for tests.
  • Don’t trust your grades with anyone.
  • Low grades are harder to bring up than high grades are to bring down.
  • Don’t trust an assignment with the other people in your group.
  • Be proactive.

 I Wish You Would Have Taught Me This about Teachers

  • I learned that if I’m not responsible enough to turn my assignment in on time, the teacher does not have to work with me.
  • If you don’t understand something, go ask the teacher. My parents have told me to do it many times, but I think I know what I am doing, and it’s usually wrong.
  • Get to know your teachers; they are more willing to work with you.
  • No matter how good your work is, if the teacher doesn’t like you, your grade will suffer.
  • Don’t play with calculators while teachers are teaching. They get moderately annoyed.
  • Not all teachers are the same.
  • Not all teachers are competent.

I Wish You Would Have Taught Me This about Life Outside of School Walls

  • How to cook.
  • How to save my money.
  • Finances. Enough said.
  • How it really is going to be going out into the real world. (x2)
  • Transition is hard.
  • I can’t always be perfect at everything.
  • Do EVERYTHING. You will miss out greatly.
  • People will be better than you at certain things but that doesn’t mean you are a failure.
  • Facebook is very, very addictive.
  • How to type faster.
  • How to find what you want to do.
  • I sometimes take on more than I can handle.

What I Learned about My Parents

  • My parents tend to be right about most things.
  • I think my parents did a great job raising me, and there really is not anything else that I wish my parents had taught me or had done differently.

What Can Parents Do about This List?

One thing I’ve already changed in my parenting is focusing on Ian when I ask him to do something. I’ve noticed he rarely gets up immediately to do what I ask. I have obviously taught him this is okay by not enforcing my request. I am more adamant about insisting that he does it right away, and I dish out consequences if he doesn’t. If I don’t insist on him completing the task, then I am teaching him to procrastinate—the very thing most of my students had on their list as something they had to unlearn the hard way. It’s difficult at times, but I know he will be happier and more successful in all of his experiences if he gets things done right away and does them well.

Another thing I’ve tried to help him understand is how to be a good friend and how to tell when someone is a good friend to him. I don’t let him get away with being mean or bossy, and I have asked friends to leave because Ian was not being kind. We talk about how his friends treat him, the good and the bad, and how to respond when someone is being mean. I tell him he doesn’t have to be friends with mean people, but he may not be mean back to them. He can be honest as to why he doesn’t want to play with someone, but he cannot call him or her a name. I see far too many teenagers letting other people push them around because they were taught to be nice to everyone, but they were not taught how to walk away from bad friends.

Do you have any suggestions or tried-and-true techniques to share with this community? I’d love to hear from you.

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6 Responses to Things I Wish My Parents Taught Me, But Didn’t

  1. Jean says:

    Pauline – I hope this posts –

    Love that your students let you share this – now that I am no longer a teacher, I wonder if I was competent and kind enough to teach some of this to my students “in loco parentis” –
    Today though, it makes me think of two particular things – my 30th, yes 30th, high school reunion is coming up this year, and what I have learned is I had no idea how much my high school offered me. I was surrounded by really really bright people, who were interesting, and fun, and I stuck to my own kind, for many of the reasons your students stated. I was unsure of how to make friends, and be confident in myself. And it has taken me this long to figure that out – among many of the other things they listed.
    Secondly, it makes me think of how my parents could have taught me more, and how I have worked very hard not to stick to all the values they instilled – “don’t discuss anything difficult” – “If we don’t talk about it it will just go away” – “my children don’t drink or do drugs or anything else ‘bad'” – This last you know is completely untrue 😉
    So I cautiously, and with love, have discussed these topics with my girls – finding places in the conversation where I can introduce or remind them of a lesson or two. And occasionally they reward me by telling me about times when they remembered a story I told them (anecdotes are the ally of every parent), and how they made a good decision based on it. This is the most I could hope for – because I didn’t want them to complain about me being overbearing and lecturing without listening. I would be so ashamed if they did, because it would have meant they didn’t think I valued their opinion and their experience. Valuing them is the foundation of love.

    So thank you. It seems after all this time – we still have a thing or two to talk about 😉

    • Pauline says:

      Thanks, Jean! My students are wonderful! I love your perspective and advice. Anecdotes are my favorite way of teaching my children as well as my students. Just ask them. I’d love it if they replied with their favorite story;)
      Our parents came from a different generation; they meant well, but they had no clue what our generation experienced. Fortunately, we have mothers like you who open up truthful conversations with their children, hoping to lead them in the right direction. I know of too many parents who just want to be their kids’ buddy: They buy them alcohol and drugs, encourage the bad clothing choices, blame the teachers for their childrens’ failures…
      I love your last line: “Valuing them is the foundation of love.” Thanks for sharing your wisdom!

  2. C Luker says:

    Pauline,

    I think the comment “Mistakes are necessary to grow” is at the heart of most of these lessons. I feel a huge missing piece of our education system nowadays is that sometimes the best lessons start with first “failing.”

    Many of these things that students wished their parents would have taught them would be difficult to actually learn without experiencing and possibly failing at it first.

    On another note, I wish that I would have asked some similar questions to my seniors before they left! Great topic and thanks for sharing 🙂 Would you mind if I used some of these comments at the beginning of the year with my team building activities??

    • Pauline says:

      Casey,
      I agree with you, especially the more I think about it. So many of our life lessons come from growth after mistakes or failing. I think some of the problems we face in education come from the misconstrued “failure is not an option” innovation. If the government officials presented the idea as “never give up, even after failure” innovation, we could have worked with that. Now we have administrators, parents, and students telling us these kids can’t fail. They can, and they do fail; teachers have little to do with that decision. The question should be how are these kids going to learn from that failure?
      I know real life experiences teach better lessons, but we can give our children a slight advantage by giving them useful tools like organization, time management, priority plans, friendship guidelines/discussions… Obviously I’m not an expert, but I do know that it’s my job to help my children and students become successful adults. But what does “help” look like?
      I’m so honored that you asked! Of course you can use these comments for the new school year. I’d love to hear how you will be using them. I’ve always been a big fan of yours and your teaching 🙂

  3. Erin says:

    This is my favorite: Don’t play with calculators while teachers are teaching. They get moderately annoyed.

    What a great idea! What great responses!

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