What if I don’t get a Valentine? What if I never date? What if I don’t get asked to prom? What if the only guy to ever kiss me is my dad?....gross. What if I never get married? What if I live with my parents forever? I need a Valentine. Gretta got a rose from Rob last year. She is so pretty. I am not pretty. I saw someone looking at my hair in class today. I know they were laughing at me. I am ugly. I need to get up earlier before school. Do my hair. And my makeup. I need to ask my mom for new makeup. Is makeup really going to help me? Maybe. It helps those girls in the magazines. It could help me. Probably not, I am ugly. I should text Gretta. Find out where she gets her hair done. Oh, and I have to do this stinking homework. Really? I am awful at math.........on and on and on and on.................
Anybody else’s brain ever race like this? Exhausting and self-deprecating. Teenage girls are in the ranks among the people to be the most hard on themselves. Constantly feeling the need to compare and put down themselves.
The thing is, you may never hear this whole dialogue. Teens keep things like this tucked inside and maybe share a little bit with a friend or leaks out to you when upset. Teens want to keep their parents at a distance because they think they don’t get it. Even in the 80s DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince were singing about it, “Just take it from me, parents just don’t understand.”
Some parents love to pour out what happened to them to their children as living proof they get it. The thing is, while your story may be a carbon copy of what you teen is going through, it is your experience and not theirs so to them it can sound polar opposite and dated.
I wouldn’t discourage all sharing; just be selective. Maybe ask if they want to hear it. Otherwise you end up wasting your breath, your teen gets annoyed, and you find yourself agitated as well.
So what to do? That is a good question isn’t it? My answer is fourfold:
1. Show your unconditional love in any way you can. Share a meal together. Catch them on a Saturday when they wake up at 12PM and go out for a bagel; just before they hit up their phone and are gone for the day. Invite them to watch a movie with you. They may decline 9/10 times. But there will be a night when they need you. It might be just the right invite when not feeling so loved by their friends.
2. Listen. I always go back to this in a lot of things I write because it is what gets reported by teens so often. Teenagers want parents to listen and not jump in with the perfect solution.
3. Give them room to grow. Like you and me, we all needed to have our own experiences to grow and learn. Most of us really learn our lessons from our own doings. Teens crave these experiences and parents need to allow their teens the room to have them.
4. Get Their Mental Health Treated. If your teen’s brain is functioning like the above paragraph and you know it, talk with them about getting some professional help. Many kids benefit from a tune up of self-esteem. Teens can also learn life long tools to help them cope with anxiety and the negative chatter their mind’s create. And lastly, teens are really soothed with reassurance by a teen expert in knowing they aren’t the only ones going through certain thoughts and feelings.
I allow my teen the room to grow and experience life.