Especially as children get older, resist being judgmental (e.g., about their decisions or friends) and instead stay aware, make objective observations, and draw informed conclusions.
Know (e.g., by studying the yearbook) their classmates, their classmates’ parents, and their teachers. Be familiar with names and faces.
Offer facts and objective information to help your children see things in a different light instead of telling them layers and layers of weighted, opinionated things—especially as it relates to their class, friends, teachers, and experiences.
The objective (no pun intended!) here is to help our children come to their own conclusions as we guide them along better paths. If all we do is tell them things, it’s not really going to sink in. They have to be the ones to think about things and to bounce those thoughts off of us and (hopefully) to have a conversation about things that are important to them or that are bothering them.
When we are judgmental and opinionated about things in their world like their class, friends, teachers, and experiences, it can often have a distancing effect. Instead of drawing our children in, it repels them. And this is exactly not what we are going for. We want them to trust us (because they can trust us) so that they will want to talk to us openly about things and share their heart with us as they wish to. Our children don’t ever need to feel like they can’t talk to us or come to us or share their life with us. Of course they will go through stages where they will pull away. But as we give them the space to be however they choose to be, they will come back to us (even while still in grade school) because we have chosen not to be overbearing about them and their life—and they will see this and appreciate this and will learn over time that they have a gift in us. And our reward for it all is that our children will choose (and will continue to choose) to include us in their life, as we have made effort to help them feel included in our family as they have grown up.