I know. I know. What in the world can I possibly find magical about teenagers? But hang with me for a sec.
To say I hated being a teen would be a nice way of putting it. Really, being the awkward, quiet, weird kid, cowering at the back of the class trying to disappear, wasn’t ever a goal of mine, I was really good at it though. Serious self-doubt and low self-esteem … yes, that was (and still is) me. Kids called me names. I was certain there was something wrong with me. Why didn’t that portal open up and take me somewhere I truly belonged?
No, don’t blow up the balloons for the pity party! That’s just how it was.
Being a teenager sucks – standing at the edge of the cliff of life, gazing out at the world wondering how in the world you’ll find a spot in the chaos. To choose what to be, who to be. Teens face the biggest questions of life, their brains having no idea what to do with those questions. So teens try to find a voice, find themselves. In their search for independence, there will be eye-rolling and ‘attitude’ (a word a have a deep hatred of). Why do they stomp off and slam doors? Because they have no idea how to express the emotions in their spinning heads. They are trying to form their own opinions, say what’s on their minds, live life their own way, because they don’t want to be told what to do or how to think – and who does? They need to discover what works and what doesn’t on their own. Hello, mistakes! What a perfect time to make them! When parents are there to offer a helping hand and say, “Oops. Maybe try something different next time.” By the time they venture out into the world, they’ll be ready.
However, we adults might not.
Sending kids out into the world is scary. What if they make bad choices, end up falling into darkness? This fear can lead to control. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about rules. Rules are different, rules are good. Control … telling them how to live. Encourage them to find their own way, because let’s be honest, we want then to move out! And never move back in! Surviving mistakes will give them confidence. Teach them to love themselves even though they make mistakes, even though they don’t fit in at school, because in the end we are who we are, and, maybe, not fitting in was just right. It was for me. If I had the chance to go back and tell teenage-me that being weird was okay, no better than okay … it was PERFECT, I wouldn’t go. One, I wouldn’t believe me being an obvious evil clone or shape-shifting alien. Two, being that girl brought me here and I LOVE it here. In the end we need to learn to accept ourselves and that takes time.
Being a parent isn’t about control. It’s about encouragement. It’s about acceptance. When they slam the door and roll their eyes, celebrate their need to be themselves and help them express their emotions. Don’t fear what the world will do to your child. Be excited about what your child can do for the world.
Being a teen isn’t about fitting in and being perfect. It’s about facing fear and finding a voice, which takes time, a bit of magic, and a lot of believing.
I write this because of my teen friends, past and present whose houses are filled with yelling. I wish I could change it with a wave of my magic wand. However, I promise to help you find the power to make your lives better. I dedicate this to the teens who think no one cares because no one listens. I honor all the parents who go day by day, trying to understand, to accept, but feel on the verge of running away. All families are different, all kids are different. My wish is for everyone to find the way life works best and live it fully. Life truly is magic, don’t let it get buried under frustration and unhappiness.
What can you do to make your life better? Or maybe the life of someone else.