Thank you to all the parents who joined me for the Sophomore Parent Tea.  

    Also, a BIG thank you to Emma Burke & Chris Carlucci (and Lily WIlis & Cyrus Thelin, Class of 2018)for sharing their wisdom and experience as “professional teenagers” successfully navigating their high school years. 

    Below is an outline of some of the topics and information shared at the meeting (and past meetings).  This information is a combination of both student and counselor perspectives.  Enjoy.  

    Chris & Emma

    Open Communication with Parents: the most significant support for successfully navigating the high school years

    • Keeping lines open so that any topic is acceptable
    • Students want parents to bring up difficult topics with them (since they are uncomfortable starting the conversation)
    • What is our plan if I am at a party/event and feel uncomfortable and want to come home?  Can I call you and will you come get me without me getting grounded?
    • What exactly is safe sex and what are the kinds of things I need to consider before embarking on that territory?
    • What if my friend asks me to share my answers on a test?
    • Students want an adult role model they feel safe talking with (i.e., mom, dad, Aunt Sally)
    • Constantly pestering your teen to tell you every thought is not a good idea
    • They don’t want or have to tell you everything, but they do need to know you are available to listen in case they decide to talk
    • As a teenager, my ideas are expanding daily and weekly, and my opinions are changing frequently.  It is important to be there as a resource for me, not as the person who gets too narrowly focused on my opinion of the day (Read Michael Riera’sbooks)
    • There is a great deal of pressure to do everything at once, and be "excellent" at everything simultaneously.  This is unrealistic and unachievable for most of us.  (The Overachievers: The Secret Lives of Driven Kidsand The Blessings of a B Minus by Wendy Mogel)
    • Ask us questions about our day, what resources we need from you as parents, and what types of things are causing us stress
    • Share stories of your challenges and ways you managed them, so that we are aware of strategies to use when we fail or stumble.  Family lessons are far more welcome than your student tells you
    • Have a FIRM PHONE DEADLINE for us – late hours are not a good time for technology
    • Although it is hard for us to accept, take our phone away if we are not completing school assignments in a timely manner
    • Talking to girls face to face is effective (in general)
    • Talking to boys side by side, or while doing something active, is effective (in general)
    • Be open to the fact that your teen may be more comfortable talking to another adult.  They will not always turn to you, and that does not mean that you are not loved or a good parent
    • Not all of our conversations need to revolve around school.  Let's talk about books you are reading, your day, something interesting you saw on the news, the latest movies, your bowling score.  Students are not transcripts, GPAs or test scores; they are humans
    • Knowing where your child is at night/on weekends is important. Students suggest they text you their location and change of location and where they are if they are sleeping out

     Student/Counselor Communication

    My mom rarely contacts Ms Souder.  I come in to see her myself or email her directly.  Face to face interactions with Sheila makes communication clear and I get my questions answered in a timely and direct fashion.  By me talking with Sheila, it has helped me build my relationship with my counselor, which makes me more comfortable using her to support me in a variety of ways – academic and personal.

    The Student is the person in the classroom, or the athlete trying out for and earning a spot on the team.  It shows agency for the student to reach out to talk with teachers and/or coaches rather than the parent.  Student/adult communication is an opportunity for the student to demonstrate independence and build relationships. 


    • Don’t underestimate the importance of sleep for teenagers
    • If your student is up late working or staring into a screen (iPad, computer, TV), feel free to set a reasonable boundary.  Rest is essential to the learning process
    • One parent takes all electronics away from his student and puts them in the parent bedroom.  Now he and his son play music together late at night on the weekends instead of isolating on screens - yay!
    • See “In the News!”on Souder’s webpage for links to articles about sleep or check out the National Sleep Foundation information about teens and sleep (an a wide variety of other topics related to teens)
    • I know that a lot of kids go home and procrastinate, but for me, I got into the habit of doing homework right away, which has helped me to get to sleep early enough to get at least 9 hours of sleep each night.  Although I took 2 AP classes this year, I was able to get to sleep by 10:30 pm every night. This amount of sleep helps me stay energetic and alert in class, which makes it easier to remember things when I get home.  Having set up this pattern junior year, I am ready to take on athletics, a leadership position (ASB President, Class of 2017), and 2-3 AP classes next year. 

    Balance Extracurricular Activities & School

    • The transition to junior year is like the moon walk.  It was unfamiliar and felt weird, required hard work.  I tried new things, failed, persisted, remained open, and eventually it all became comfortable
    • Athletics, band, drama, mock trial & dance classes are but a few of the activities that students participate in.  These activities allow students to pursue interests beyond the classroom and bring joy and new experiences into their lives
    • Junior year brings on a host of new things and choices.  College pressure becomes a major concern
    • Students should enjoy coming to school.  They should be encouraged to make course choices that bring them joy, because no matter how many AP's you take, you're not guaranteed admissions anywhere
    • Maintaining balance while striving to excel in a variety of areas is a challenge
    • Keep talking with your student about the importance of prioritizing, and sometimes cutting out activities that over-extend them
    • The key is experimenting with the perfect combination of challenge, creativity, the pursuit of physical fitness and relaxation
    • Balancing all of my student responsibilities and activities is an art with no perfect balance.  The beauty is in choosing the things I like to do and pursuing those
    • Your teen does not have to do it all.  Don’t overdo it.  Commit to the things you care about most

    Figuring out how to balance is difficult, but engaging in a lot of what high school has to offer will give you great memories to look back on  

    Cyrus & Lily


    My student isn’t motivated and just sits around the house all evening, watching TV and playing video games.  I wish s/he would do something … anything!

    • College of Marin has a ton of great classes
    • Internships are offered throughout the year and summer.  Greg Davison is the School to Career Liaison and students can meet with him for ideas and support to get an internship or job shadow organized
    • Athletics (teams as Drake, club teams, yoga studios, dance studios, martial arts) are great for physical fitness, stress reduction and getting high naturally
    • Jobs for teens are numerous, from Swirl to umpire baseball
    • Household chores (laundry, vacuuming, cooking dinner, etc.) are great ideas to motivate your child to get out and try something new.  If they refuse, at least your house will be clean and your teen will learn how to cook.  It’s a win/win!
    • I love you too much to fight about homework, but I will be available every night from 6:60 – 7:30 to answer questions, help you with homework, etc.
    • Tell your teen to select something or you will select it for them


    • Watch Screenagers - lots of good information, but there is no one right or only answer for your child or your family
    • Be very much mindful of screens and the amount of time they absorb in your own and your child's life.  Model the behavior you want to see in your child
    • Anxiety in teens is on an upswing.  Social media and screens exacerbate these issues.  Students have a constant stream of information that floods them.  Oftentimes, the content is disturbing (i.e., school shootings, or only perfect photos of friends and their perfect experiences).  Other times, the content is irrelevant but the fact that something is always dinging is a distraction.  Time AWAY FROM ELECTRONICS helps to calm people down, slow people down, and allow for real time connections to be made (or even homework to get completed)
    • Family time - set some aside every day and put all of the screens away.  Example: no screens at dinner, no screens for evening check-in, or Saturday morning family hike
    • As for daily check-in with your child, it is highly advisable.  Please don't ask "how was your day?" or "did you ace that test?"  Please ask things like: "What did you learn today?"  "What was the most interesting part of your day?"  "What was challenging for you today?"  Then, quietly wait while we reflect on the day so that we can answer.  Students have very little "downtime" to reflect, think about what was important in their day, or even think about how it applies to their own life.  They are often so busy getting on to the next task, that reflection is in short supply.  Parents can be very critical in assisting with this.
    • This time with parents showed me how important I am to them.  Now, when I am out at parties, I have a perspective of how much they care, and I understand that I need to look out for my own safety and the safety of others.


    • Not everyone is doing it (despite the rumors to the contrary)
    • Touch is a normal and necessary part of human interaction.  If parents are not hugging their student or holding her/his hand, will they seek human contact elsewhere?  this is a topic worthy of attention
    • Some students don’t go to parties until senior year (what parties?  We didn’t know there were parties in 9th& 10th grade)
    • Here is a FANTASTIC 3 minute video to watch with your student about consent.  It's clever and funny and makes the point.  It's called Tea Consent, and I guarantee you will love it. 
    • We highly recommend that parents continue to spend time with their students each week.  Enjoying family pursuits strengthens the family bond and helps students explore their personal values so that they can make good decisions
    • Activities and sports are a great drug deterrent
    • Students will always be looking toward their parents to see how you manage stress and conflicting priorities, as they explore their own values
    • Go bowling, golfing, camping, biking, game or movie night, etc.  What is the thing you did together and enjoyed when they were 10?  Talk about adding that back into the routine.  Ask what your child wants to do.  If you can't come to perfect agreement, strike a compromise.  Child picks the activity this week, parent picks the one in two weeks.  Try not to force them into things they hate, hence the talking and compromising
    • Know your child’s friends and their parents.  These people play a large part in what your child does.  Do you share their values?
    • Have a safe word or phrase your child can communicate when s/he needs you to rescue them and ensure their safety.  Examples are: a text asking if you fed the dog, a Ninja Turtle Emoji!  These work.  Kids like knowing they can rely on you to take the fall for making them leave a party or other situation that doesn't feel safe
    • Don’t avoid the difficult subjects.  Talk about the dangers of drunk driving, using drugs at the bonfire, carrying alcohol in your trunk for your friends.  Tell your kids about what you are hearing and then ASK them: What do you think you would do in that situation?  How do you think you might handle it?
    • You can communicate to your child that you don't agree with drug and/or alcohol experimentation, but still keep them safe if they try it anyway.  Have a plan to get them home safe, and save the questions or conversation for another day (again, pausing for reflection - and this is really hard to do if you are mad, so be kind to yourself and your child during trying times)
    • Have your child check in and say goodnight when they get home.  Don't just go to sleep and expect them to keep their curfew if you are not checking on them.  Too tempting to stay out late
    • Although I know my parents don’t support me drinking alcohol or experimenting with drugs, they have made it clear that they will be there for me 24 hours a day, to come pick me up and take care of me if I do get myself in an unsafe situation.  Remember: I’m still a kid and I’m still trying to figure it all out.  I might make a few unwise decisions along the way.  Hang in there and keep me safe.
    • Peer Resource and the Wellness Center have a ton of great resources for students to get educated and talk through decision-making

    Helpful Information

    • Souder’s Website
    • In the News: articles posted regularly on student well-being, college admissions, parenting, etc. 
    • Book Recommendations:  Overviews of books that I have enjoyed and think could be interesting and/or helpful in supporting your student to navigate the world of adolescence
    • Sophomore Year Information:  a host of links and resources focused specifically on frosh year
    • Four Year Plan:  this site has linked to worksheet that students and parents can view and change as they consider options for courses throughout their tenure at Drake.  There are links to the Instructional Guide graduation requirements and the UC/CSU a-g eligibility requirements for college
    • Alumni Advice & Info:  several links with input from current and former students on college search & application, as well as advice from students in their first years of college
    • Ross Valley Healthy Community Collaborative (RVHCC):  The goal is to improve health and wellness of the community via raising awareness.  Many fantastic events and parenting tools
    • Be The Influence: Drake Parent Club and RVHCC invite you to make a commitment to discourage teen alcohol or drug use
    • Read The Teenage Brainby Frances Jensen

    Last updated by Sheila R Souder, on 04/03/2019