Our fall favorites are here! 🍂

I let it happen again yesterday.

I was just sitting there, casually conversing with some parents, when someone asked, “So, what classes are your twins taking next year?”

I started explaining how we decided not to take all advanced courses, and how we let them choose a few classes that they did not enjoy at the grade-level instead of honors, and that’s when she said it.

“Oh, my daughter is taking AP [whatever].”

And someone else said, “Well, my son needs to find another activity so he can get in to National Honor Society.”

And another parent exclaimed, “I wish there were more AP classes for 9th grade. I think there are a lot of kids ready for the challenge.”

That’s when my heart started beating a little faster and I could feel my palms sweat.

I get that feeling a lot when parents start discussing what their kids are doing in high school. I’m a pretty confident person, but without a crystal ball, it’s tough to know what’s right for your own kid. I find it’s a complete guessing game, and sometimes the stakes feel high.

And if I am being honest, it’s hard not to get wrapped up in it, it’s hard not to want to shout to the world, “Hey, I think my kid is awesome and smart and capable and can do that, too; we’re just choosing not to follow that path.” 

I could feel myself getting defensive—and a little competitive. I knew deep down that it was utterly ridiculous. But I couldn’t stop it.

That ugly feeling stuck with me for most of the day, and it wasn’t until I was back in my car driving home by myself that I could think clearly.

You see, the thing is, we decided weeks ago that we wanted our kids to enjoy their high school experience. We talked with them at length, and my husband and I talked together, and I spoke with some of their future high school teachers—and I feel extremely confident that we’ve carved out a path that will work beautifully for them.

Some of it is non-traditional, so I had to put my foot down with some of the teachers. “Yes, I’ve seen my daughter’s test scores, but she does not enjoy language arts, and she’s pushing herself in math and science,” I said to one department head as he tried to convince me she should be in a more advanced class. “I think taking regular English will be great for her, and will not stress her out with her other academic and extra curricular activities.”

I mean, is my daughter’s entire life going to fall apart if she doesn’t take 9th grade honors English? But yet, some times—and some people—make me feel that way.

And when I doubt myself, when I wonder if the choices we made as a family are right for my daughters, I am reminded that our high school principal said there were dozens of students from our school district who were hospitalized last year—not for drugs and alcohol abuse, but for stress, depression, and anxiety.

It’s not those parents’ faults that I got all weird. Their plans for their kids may be exactly right for them.

But as a parent, I need to talk the talk for the path we decided to walk. I need to do what’s best for my own kids and not get so wrapped up in what anyone else is doing. I need to remind myself that my daughters often know what is right and best for them, and while I should listen and consider why different parents choose different paths for their kids, feeling less-than or pressured is never a good reason to change a decision for my children.

I need to feel confident in our choices, and share them, so maybe other parents who may feel like I do feel more confident in theirs, too.

And I remind myself that my self-worth as a parent is not tied up in how many advanced classes my kid takes, but it is vested in raising a well-rounded, healthy, happy adult.

Why is it so hard?

I’m pretty sure this won’t be the last time I feel my pulse quicken and I feel that little seed of doubt growing when I feel like my kids may be missing out.

But, I hope I keep quashing it down and reminding myself what we as a family deem important.

Because I think if we put a premium on raising kids who are content in their lives, then the kids truly will be alright.

Originally published on Playdates on Fridays by Whitney Fleming

You may also like: 

Dear Teenage Daughter, I Will Be Right Here Waiting For You to Come Back

I Will Always Love You Anyway

Dear Teenagers, Be Patient While I Let Go

Dear Daughter, Hide These Truths in Your Heart as You Become a Woman

Want more stories of love, family, and faith from the heart of every home, delivered straight to you? Sign up here!


So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Whitney Fleming

Whitney is a mom of three teen daughters, a freelance writer, and co-partner of the site parentingteensandtweens.com You can find her on Facebook at WhitneyFlemingWrites.

A Mother’s Heart is Never Ready to Let Go

In: Motherhood, Teen
photo of a teen packing up his truck

Although I knew it was coming soon, I didn’t know today would be the day. I’ve pushed it to the back of my mind, knowing my heart wasn’t prepared. But maybe it never would be . . . Because I guess a mother’s heart is never really ready to let go. While I’ve dealt with these emotions before and it broke me . . . there’s something about the finality of the closing of a chapter in parenthood that cuts a little deeper when you watch your baby pack their belongings to move away. You know from the moment they...

Keep Reading

Keep Loving Your Teen Even When It Hurts

In: Motherhood, Teen
Sad teen girl sitting against railing with sun setting in the background

When I was 16, my social living teacher at Berkeley High School had us write letters to ourselves. She told us to write a future date on the envelope and promised to send us our letters on that day, which she did. Mine arrived 10 years later when I was living in Albuquerque, New Mexico. My mom forwarded it to me, and I remember sitting in my rented basement room, having just finished rehearsing with a dance company I’d joined, unfolding the piece of yellow legal pad paper, and marveling at my teenager handwriting, letters squished together to make room...

Keep Reading

When the Hugs Disappear, I Won’t

In: Motherhood, Teen, Tween
Mother and teen son hugging, overlooking balcony, color photo

There is a time that lives in my heart that feels like it’s straight out of a Star Wars intro. A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. A time when I received endless hugs.  A time when kisses on the cheek were plentiful. When bedtime rolled on for hours, with baby blue eyes, raspy little voices, and sweaty curls begging for more books, more snuggles, more time. There was a time when I gave underdogs until dusk, piggyback rides for miles, and lay on the floor flying my kids on airplane journeys that ended in crash landings...

Keep Reading

I Am a Mother Evolving

In: Grown Children, Kids, Motherhood, Teen
Mother and child walking by water in black and white photo

Those who mean well squawk the refrain— “The days are long, but the years are short.” They said I would miss it— little feet and newborn baby smell nursing in the wee hours with a tiny hand clutching mine. Tying shoes,  playing tooth fairy,  soothing scary dreams. They were fine times, but I do not wish them back. RELATED: Mamas, Please Quit Mourning Your Children Growing Up I rather enjoy these days of my baby boy suddenly looking like a young man in a baseball uniform  on a chilly Wednesday in April. And my Amazonian teenage girl  with size 11...

Keep Reading

15 Is Everything

In: Motherhood, Teen
Teen girl driving

She used to wear cat shirts and mismatched socks and silly pants. But this is 15. Now she’s up early to make sure her hair is just so and her socks are matching and you wonder how she grew up in front of your eyes. 15 is high school and new friends and old friends and navigating the world of dating. 15 is beautiful (short) homecoming dresses, even though her mom was just sure she would never let her buy that. 15 is late night studying and early morning practices. 15 is learning to drive (and making her mother nervous...

Keep Reading

As a Nurse, This Is How I Prepared My Daughter for Her First Period

In: Kids, Motherhood, Teen, Tween
Woman wearing sunglasses with hands on the sides of her face and smiling, black and white photo

I don’t remember my first period, which means my mother had me well prepared. This doesn’t mean I was okay with it. I remember feeling awkward and tense each time. And honestly, for many years, shopping for feminine hygiene products filled me with unease. But wait a minute! There shouldn’t be anything shameful about something that will recur for about half of a woman’s life! Who decided it was to be a sensitive subject? Aren’t we all supposed to show empathy toward each other when it comes to this?  I say, pass the Midol around, sister! I knew the time...

Keep Reading

Dear High School Junior, Make the Most of This Year

In: Motherhood, Teen
Teen boy standing in front of old building looking away

To my high school junior, Each year, these back-to-school letters get more difficult to write. Wanting to capture all that I want to say to you, in as few words as possible, seems like a daunting task.  Because I know that right now what I write to you seems cliché. And cringy. And like I’m doing too much, as your generation says.  If I’m lucky, you will skim this letter and probably not read it for real until you’re deep in your adult years, digging through a bin of your old school things I saved for you and begged you...

Keep Reading

The Mental Load of Mothering Teens and Tweens Is Exhausting

In: Motherhood, Teen, Tween
Tween holding smartphone and sitting in waiting room, black and white image

We stand together silently in the short line at 7:58 a.m. Next to me, my almost-teenage son scuffles his feet on the beige tile floor as I thumb through my billfold, searching for the right insurance card. “I can help you now,” the receptionist motions us over to the desk. “What do you need to be seen for?” How does a mother of teens and tweens answer that question? What do you need to be seen for? Clearly the obvious response this morning is that my young athlete needed his possibly-fractured wrist X-rayed. But it’s so much more than that....

Keep Reading

I’ll Always Be the One Who Loved Them First

In: Faith, Motherhood, Teen
Family with three small boys standing in kitchen, color photo

I’m no longer the last person he says goodnight to. That’s a hard pill to swallow. Here we are, just raising these boys, hoping and praying things over their futures, watching them grow, teaching them independence and other life skills, hoping they have heard the things we have said, and praying they make our faith their faith and choose to follow Jesus. And then, just like that, without any warning, without asking my permission, there is someone special in his life. Someone he spends hours on the phone with. Someone he wants to spend his time with. Someone who isn’t...

Keep Reading

I Want My Kids in Sports, Even If It Means Less Time for School

In: Motherhood, Sports, Teen, Tween
Youth volleyball team smiling

As my kids grow older I see the academic pressure mounting. Instead of going to school to learn and stretch their curiosity, it’s become a world of competition. The focus has shifted to the final outcome and not the process. The joy of learning is missing. The expectations are rising and children are either discouraged or pushing themselves to the brink of burnout just to get that A. Piles of due dates and homework steal their free time each night. But what about growing outside of the academic world? Being book-smart is not the only thing kids need. Is school...

Keep Reading