YOUR TEEN, TRANSLATED
A new series!
In elementary, commiseration was the norm. The fights over putting on shoes and spelling homework became comedy with the moms. There was no shame in failure. It was a given! Which superhuman can wrestle an 8-year-old into a pair of tights? Who wouldn’t admit to doing that social studies project on Guyana, which no first grader can pronounce, let alone recite the gross domestic product?
so I’ll go ahead: the “glorious high school years” is a farce. On the surface, there’s this thick layer of frosting: AP courses, athletic achievements, and prom photos. What nobody’s supposed to see is the cake underneath. For many teens, the high school experience is made of lead bars. The kind that leave bruises. N O B O DY W A N T S TO S AY I T,
In today’s Instagram culture, we hide those bruises, instead sharing pics of volleyball trophies, the school play, the “love you mom!” Snapchat that came in at midnight. In private, we agonize because our kid is cutting again. Dating an older guy. Insisting on a gap year. We wonder where her crippling anxiety came from, and how to deal. We set up psychiatrist appointments, research online schools, and Google “How to help desperate teens.” The younger years were so easy! There were sleepless nights and icky diaper changes, but who’s sleeping after that cell-phone-in-her-room-overnight blowout? And is that sink full of ancient unwashed dishes less icky than a Pamper?
L A K E NORMAN
weighted blanket. That Ambien. That second (third?) glass of wine. Through my training as a boardcertified teen life coach and my two decades teaching teens, I understand the element that’s most needed—and least practiced—to support adolescents— letting them talk. About their unfiltered experiences. Their self-created goals. And on our part, deeply listening.
I UNDERSTAND THE ELEMENT THAT’S MOST NEEDED—AND LEAST PRACTICED—TO SUPPORT ADOLESCENTS—LETTING THEM TALK. To compensate for the struggle, there were bedtime hugs, shopping trips for tiny outfits, and endless support from mommy blogs, glossy magazines, and Good Morning America guests. Come middle school, those resources dwindle to one article in the back-back of the parenting magazine. Then comes high school, when kids scream through rapid, dramatic shifts in body, brain, and personality. Their job, developmentally, is to challenge their parents’ norms. Their drive, psychologically, is to prioritize peers over parents. Their mandate, academically, is to achieve more than a Wall Street lawyer. Simultaneously, the parenting resources dry up. You’re in a support Sahara. You can’t admit to that tiff, that you found their drug paraphernalia, that you’re researching residential treatment! You’re supposed to be perfect. If there’s a crack in the frosting, what’s wrong with you?! There’s a name for this: competitive parenting. No wonder you need that
Without filtering their words through our experience, values, or hopes. This column will address those totallynot-sweet issues that nobody will bring up. Because teens share their truths with me, I can provide insight on their reality, and how adults can support them. Here you can stay anonymous while learning about what other moms are grappling with…and email me with the dynamic you can’t seem to solve. Maybe I’ll write about it next column. You just worry about the frosting, sis. I’ll bring the bruise-salve. And the wine! w Want to have your struggle considered for an upcoming Teens Aloud column? Send Cyndy an email about what’s going on at firstname.lastname@example.org L K N e x p e rt
Cyndy Etler is a contributing and freelance writer for Lake Norman Woman Magazine. An award-winning young adult author and a boardcertified teen life coach, you can connect with Cyndy at www.theteenlifecoach.com. WRITER CYNDY ETLER
Lake Norman Woman Magazine - June 2019