Ok, Ok. Maybe not the entire year but at least a semester - paid!
For some this may be very hard to connect to, but let's take a look at this from the perspective of a parent. You've spent the last 16-18 years of your life molding, guiding, correcting, disciplining, supporting, loving, yelling, etc. etc. etc., for the day you never imagined to arrive - the first day of your child's 12th grade year. For some reason, just like everything else very important in life, we tend to normalize this as if it has no physical, emotional, mental and even spiritual affect on the parents and really even on the family. Well, it does. It really, really, really does. PERIOD.
Let's face it, 12th grade year is a stressful year for all involved. It is a year of immense pressure, excitement, mixed emotions, doubts, transition and yep, stress! Your child is turning into an adult and you cannot stop it. And, no matter how prepared you think you are for this very phase, you can never really be prepared for the different emotions that kick in as you get closer to the big day. It is a non-stop year filled with many decisions. What school will they attend? Can I afford to pay for their school of choice? Are they attending school afterwards, if so what school? College or trade school? Career or work? Should they stay in a dorm or off campus? Are they staying home? Scholarship? Grant? Loan? Did you get the prom dress? Is everything set for graduation? Oh, and let me tell you, if they are a homeschool student, there are additional factors that go into that. Did I have them take the right path? What do they need to get into college? Will not having a high school diploma from a public, private or charter school affect them? Where and how will they attend graduation and prom? Are they even listening to me? My God, so many questions!
With all of these changes and the simple fact that this could very well be the last year that you really get to spend time with your child as a child, I think that it would be a good idea to explore what it would look like to offer employees a leave dedicated for this very specific time in their life. A High School Parent leave. Yep - there, I said it! It is so necessary. In the western world, for sure, we are so business first that we hardly take things like this into consideration let alone the mental and emotional health of those that work for us. What would a worker be like if they were granted such a time while being paid that allowed them to spend valuable time with their child and even a moment to recuperate from the experience? I think you would have gained yourself an employee who raves about such a company and, thus, has greater productivity and added value on their return. It's just a lot, you know, to raise a family, work and to transition a child into adulthood without, well, crying. It's like a breakup that you cannot stop from happening. And while your child is still your child, this whole thing is really just easier said than done and is a whole lot easier to explain to someone who currently has a 12th grader at home or has been through such a transition.
Let us also mention how this emotional time is the discontinuation of routines with that particular child that you may have done everyday for at least the last decade. Mind you, these routines include all those things I mentioned in the first paragraph including taking them to their destinations and/or being a soccer mom/dad or some kind (or even many kinds) of mom/dad. Fill in the blank: ________________ mom/dad. And, while all of this is happening, it doesn't all really click right then and there or all at once. Your parenting shifts and you begin to realize how far you've come along your journey and how you've fulfilled your role, well or not so well, as a parent. And if you are a single parent or an empty nester to be, it's probably hitting you even harder. More importantly, if you didn't have it all together by now, there is a sense of urgency to get it done NOW. It is a moment in your life that comes fast and really, it is a moment that should be cherished and allowed to happen without the stress of work and meeting the accommodations of someone else other than, of course, that someone getting ready to make one of the biggest transitions that they will ever make in their lives.
While some may disagree with these sentiments, those of us who have been through or are going through this transition may definitely agree. Even those of us without children, but empathize, may feel what this transition may be like enough to connect with it and agree. So, maybe not the entire year but giving at least from after Christmas break and New Years until a few weeks after graduation, would be a very kind gesture from companies that you actually care about those who serve you. It may be a bit of a stretch but it's a stretch that would create an undeniable culture that many will seek to be a part of.
By Shawnnette Longley, M.Ed.
Published on May 5, 2022