Teens and Stress

Near the end of my daughter’s third year in high school, I am reminded that we parents need to be patient with our teenagers, especially our daughters, as much as possible. It’s really, really hard for them in high school which is, today, one of the most stressful environments any of us could ever tackle. Add the state of our country and the world to their personally-demanding environments and we’ve got some highly stressed kids who need our love and support.

My daughter attends Catholic school due to the generosity of others who pay her tuition. Devout parents bring up their children to be devout adults and there are some devoted, religious kids at my daughter’s school. There is also a good-sized group who rebel against their parents’ authority, at least for now, and regularly lie about what they’re doing and with whom. (All of my kids have lied to me in high school.) My sons both graduated from her school, and alcohol and drugs of every kind were available to them, if they wanted them. (One wanted to experiment and one didn’t.)

Have you seen any of the movies about ‘mean girls’? They are the First Clique, the uppermost, most desired group to belong to. They are the girls who siphon the energy of girls they hurt and convert it into power for themselves. They go after other girls for many reasons: too pretty, too smart, too athletic, too friendly, too different, too kind, stole their boyfriends, any reason at all about someone they intend to bring down. They gossip and regularly make up stories, which they put online and send in text messages. They are feared. On the male side are some of the athletes who pick on the weaker boys and the the kids with high IQs. On the news I recently saw a story about a girl, sixteen, I think, who committed suicide rather than face the torment dished out every day.

Our high-schoolers aren’t provided how-to manuals prior to their freshman years and most of them experience a new range of unfamiliar emotions while in high school. It is so easy for all humans to make mistakes in life, but make one in high school? Be ready for high school gossip-mania on an entirely new level.

We need to believe in our children, to stand up for them, no matter what, for who else do they have? We need to be sensitive (how are they really doing?) and be available to communicate with them, if not with us, with a counselor. We need to teach them to find their inner strength—to take martial arts maybe, or join a club at school to gain a support group. We need to go to the school, or the police, if necessary. We need to tell them the truth, that it’s really hard, but it’s temporary and they will make it through. If they are very sensitive or different, we can change schools, home-school–whatever we have to do to get them through this trying period of intense personal growth. We need them to know that, with us by their sides, they’re going to be just fine.


6 thoughts on “Teens and Stress

  1. Your last sentence really says it all for me. ” We need them to know that, with us by their sides, they’re going to be just fine.” As parents, grand parents, family members, adult significant other or mentor, our children need to know that they matter and that they are not alone. I think that aids them in making better choices.

  2. Excellent and timely post indeed. At this time, more than ever, it’s important for kids to know that THEY matter, to their parents, other family members and friends. And it’s important for them to learn social skills as well as spiritual wisdom.

  3. It’s a lot harder to get into the heads of people in my generation. More than ever I think this is the first time in 20 to 30 years that we can actually say, “Being a kid in this day and age is a lot different than when you were in High School.” And then again it’s also the same ballgame. We still have to fight peer pressure but it has found a new medium within the internet, txting, and the widespread birth of the cellular phone that has taken this country by storm. It is still a warzone and a terrible fight for each and everyone of us. There are more temptations, easier ways to get it, suicide is becoming more prevalent as books and media show the easy way out. Some of us see that there is more out there than death, and the suffering and the torture. There are some who are helping. To Write Love on Her Arms is a great example of adults, and teens coming together not only to help teens, but even to help other adults. It’s a test of the human condition they are challenging the usual mindset of bottle everything up and let it explode. They’ve helped so many people get out of depression, suicide, and addiction. If every third person could change just a little and think about others this way it would be a better world. It would be great if someone could start a chain like in “Pay it forward.” Help 3 people, tell those 3 people to go help 3 people and it would be a chain of nevernending happiness because those people would feel obliged but that isn’t how this world works. It’s a game of cat and mouse. We have to find the rat hole and get away from the cat. But there are traps and potholes and they keep multiplying. IT keeps adding to the trauma that we face, but in all reality we have just one way to push. Onward, or drop from the track all together. There is only so much one person can do. We just gotta keep swimming. We got to find our school again and pull out of the depression. There are those people for everybody. It’s just finding em.

    Wow… long winded one ain’t I?

    • You know, years ago I saw in my mind’s eye a place where teens gathered for basketball, chess, a homework center and so on, but the most interesting part was a room with a couple of couches and some chairs set in kind of a circle, where the teens could come, sit and talk. They helped each other. Something like this could probably be modeled after a grieving group, where people already know how to handle the really hard emotions and get people to talk. Or even AA or Narcotics Anonymous. They know how to accept others’ experiences, to listen and to hear, and to get people talking, too. Is To Write Love on Her Arms a talking circle? You have so much passion for this, Devin, and you communicate so deeply and so well. Maybe this is your calling.
      I’m gonna go find the link to a post I made called The Talking Stick and the amazing experience I had. I’ll come back and put it in this comment box. Let me know what you think about all this.

      Here it is: https://notesalongthepath.wordpress.com/2009/06/22/the-talking-stick/

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