While out photoging today, I had an epiphany.
I read about the trials my online friends have with their teens, and empathize with their troubles with moody kids. I have wonderful, loving relationships with both my kids, but when they were younger teens, it wasn’t always that way. For a few years, early high school days, it was like living with Body Snatchers.
In my experience, this phenomenon was more acute with my daughter. Maybe it’s just girls, maybe it’s mother/daughter theatrics… all I do know is that when my daughter was between 14 and 16, she was perpetually pissed off – at life in general, and at me more specifically.
Sometime during her senior year in high school, she mellowed, and the sweet girl I remembered resurfaced. After a recent weekend with my now grown daughter, I realized that she is a really fun date.
My epiphany was to finally realize why she was so angry all the time. She was completely overwhelmed and I was an easy target.
She knew she could push
buttons boundaries, and I would still love her, and support her – even if I was researching boarding schools.
An overachiever from a very early age, my daughter was never someone who to let ‘good enough’ be the norm. I clearly remember she coming home from elementary school with a B on a test, and mortified about telling her dad. To her, a B was failure.
In high school she took as many AP (Advance Placement) classes as she could, passing each test with a 4 or 5. When she graduated, she’d already earned 33 college credits. Her weighted overall GPA for all her courses was 4.7.
She carried this work ethic over to her sports. While not the strongest or fastest player, she was technically one of the best on her soccer and volleyball teams. It was like watching a chess game, she could ‘see’ a play to the end and adjust accordingly.
The pressure she exerted on herself was immense. Her father and I often told her that we only expected her to do her best. But her best had to be The Best. After the pressure of high school, college was easy.
So… to my teen parent friends, look at what is going on in your children’s lives. How motivated are they to do well, in academics, in athletics, in their personal relationships with peers and teachers. Are they an overachiever struggling to maintain a self-imposed high level of success? How’s that working for them?
If your teen is in a constant state of curmudgeonry, maybe they’re just stressed out. Having a ridiculous amount of coursework/homework, trying to keep their status on a sports team, dealing with girlfriend/boyfriend drama, coping with demanding teachers, would make anyone cranky.
Giving them a safe outlet to rant, to release some of that pent-up frustration, could mean a happier kid. One who smiles more than snarls. Keep those lines of communication open. Throw them off their game and tell them you understand they might be struggling, but that you’re available to talk whenever it gets to be too much.
Also remember, it gets better, and your darling children will re-emerge.