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Schoolies – The Training Wheels Are Off!

Schoolies – The Training Wheels Are Off!

As the crowds of school leavers flock to their mecca, many of their parents will be shifting in their seats and tossing and turning in their sleep … they can only wonder what is going on for their child amidst the great unknown that is schoolies week.

We hear stories on the news about the damaging behaviours and the real risk of allowing our young ones exposure to this.

Many parents whose children will be following this teen pilgrimage in the coming years will also be thinking about about this, and they may also be feeling some concerns.

Interestingly it is a ritual for the young that is more controlled and even embraced as a tourism event these days. A good part of this has been to make it safer and less alcohol fuelled. Yet we all know this still happens and there is still a risk.

Most parents want a happy and safe passage for their children into their next phase of life and schoolies week is like a week-long fire-walk that is safe for most, yet we don’t want our children to be one of the statistics.

As parents we hope we’ve been able to instil in them a good moral compass and an ability to hold themselves accountable. Of course this is a gradual process and schoolies is certainly a test of this.

We have a son about to enter year 11 next year and according to all reports, booking schoolies accommodation needs to happen the best part of 2 years beforehand otherwise the cost becomes exorbitant. This is good in that it brings the conversation forward as there are a few things to consider and discuss in these years like parties and school formals. Here’s how we are approaching it…

Who’s in your Village?

We have been cultivating strong friendships with the parents of our sons mates… it’s not actually difficult as in recent years these families have shared a powerful rite of passage experience that had made it easy to stay connected and keep abreast of what’s going on for our sons.

Just last weekend we had a BBQ where we first talked with the boys (just a bit) about Schoolies, giving them the holidays to think about what they want to do. It’s fair enough they get to celebrate such a milestone AND how do they want to celebrate it is the next important conversation.

Generally there was a desire from the boys to go to schoolies (end of High School celebrations) at the Gold Coast (eastern seaboard beach party area of Australia) as ‘that’s what everyone else is doing’. But we have a conversation starter with the boys and we did talk about their options. They have time to think and they know we’ll be having another chat after the holidays.

As parents who attended schoolies ourselves, it can be easy to think it’s just a party and he’ll be alright. When viewing todays risks vs the risks we had, we begin to see the need for our village to be active around this and manage the risk.

This is getting the balance right between over-managing and just setting them off without any boundaries. As we say – boundaries show you care.

So given that our boys want to attend the Gold Coast Schoolies, our plan is currently as follows and I’ve no doubt this will evolve over the coming years. They only go if;

• We have the phone numbers of all the boys and their parents. Many phones get lost, damaged or the boys forget to recharge batteries, so we need multiple options to contact him. We already have each other’s numbers this far out, although there are a couple of families that are likely to be involved that we’ll include in subsequent conversations. Each day one of the boys must check-in at home and parents can then spread the word to the other families.

• They stick together and there is always someone not drinking. None of them will have a car. Alcohol is a big factor no doubt, and how much is enough is the key. This is where parental alcohol use at home comes into the equation. They boys are noticing alcohol and at some stage over the coming 2 years we’ll be introducing it to them in a controlled environment. We’re interested to see how that goes!

• Respect is the motto for the week. Respect for self, others and the environment/ property/ accommodation rules. Particularly we want them to be the sort of young men that would help someone in need, perhaps someone has overdone it and needs some help. What helping someone looks like is also part of the conversation as there can be a risk there too. Respect is also a great door-opener with a chat about drugs, sex and pretty much anything!

• The big one is that whilst there is so much excitement around finishing and celebrating the end of schooling, many can be quite anxious about it. Some get there and realise either they’re in over their heads or it’s just not their scene. We will be giving them a ‘get out free pass’ which means that any time day or night, no questions asked, we’ll come and get you.

At some stage over the next 2 years we’ll be discussing whether we write this up as a contract or hold a formal meeting where this is talked about and the boys agree to these rules of engagement for Schoolies/Parties etc.

Hopefully you can see the great need for a village or support network. We’d love to hear from any other parents as to how they have managed schoolies week.

Who’s in your village?

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  1. I personally want to know the reason why you named this
    particular blog post, “Schoolies – The Training
    Wheels Are Off! | Powerhouse Programs”. Either
    way I really adored the blog!Thanks,Tia

    • admin |

      Thanks Tia for your feedback. Depending on where you are you may have different words for what is called in Australia “Schoolies”. It is the post-high school graduation celebration that occurs for between a number of days for some to a number of weeks. High school leavers are between 17-18yrs and effectively, they are on their own, effectively riding “life” solo. While often amongst their peers, they are often beyond their Parents sphere of influence, control, guidance and protection. This is a time where Parents are having to let go and having a plan of how to do this is key.

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