This crisis has us all on edge and trying to understand what is happening. However, we now are realizing that this is a marathon, not a sprint. This is not something that would be over with a few weeks of lockdown and then business as usual. This could be months for some areas and even when we start resuming normal life, there will be a new normal. In realizing this, I’m also realizing that I need to not obsess over every new statistic or article.
At first it seemed imperative to watch the number of new cases and deaths and see if we were flattening the curve. I hung on to the words of the governors and of Dr. Fauci. I wanted to get all the information I could to understand what was happening and where we were going. Now we are in our second month of sheltering in place and it seems more important to keep up our mental and physical health than to listen to briefings and read about possible cures. Not to make light of the new patients or those who die daily, but otherwise there isn’t anything so new on a daily basis. If I miss some news today, I’m sure it will be repeated tomorrow. Even our video chats with friends have moved from discussing everything about Coronavirus to lighter subjects.
You can’t live at a heightened level of stress for too long. You have to find a way to stay calm and find some happiness in distractions. As I said this is a marathon now, not a sprint, so we need to pace ourselves. Find something fun, calming, or entertaining to focus on while still staying informed on the news periodically. Support your loved ones as well and remind each other to find some positive ways to pass the time. I write this as a way of talking to myself and maybe some of you will agree with my perspective.
Recently my teenage son was talking to someone and mentioned feeling stressed out and they replied ‘what’s stressful at your age?’. He mentioned his exams but that got me thinking about how teens do have a lot of stress. They are no longer at that carefree, naive part of childhood and yet they are not mature enough to understand everything. This creates a potentially dangerous combination and that is probably why you hear about teenage depression and even suicide.
Teens have the pressure to do well in school and compete for their future success. Those who live in good school districts often have college-level courses and an overwhelming level of work. Meanwhile, those who live in lesser neighborhoods may fear violence and might struggle to get an education. They are all reminded that they need to do well to have a chance at a good future and this competition and pressure looms overhead. However, they are still young and working on being focused while a part of them just wants to play. They are walking a fine line between childhood and maturity.
There are also so many social pressures to deal with. They may have to navigate through bullying, cliques, or mean girls. They may not have a support system to rely on. They may have raging hormones and not know how to deal with unrequited feelings. All these issues seem small and trivial once you are an adult who has successfully passed through this stage but it can be all-encompassing for a teen. All these things can cause stress and even have long-term effects on self-esteem.
As if these things weren’t enough, these kids may have unhappiness or pressure to deal with at home. Parents often start to let teen children in on the problems, thinking that they are old enough to understand. They no longer shelter them from the negativity and uncertainties. Although it is good for the teen to have some exposure to ‘real life’, sometimes they aren’t ready to process all of that. And in addition to all this, there are so many scary realities about the world. We as adults worry about the economy, jobs, terrorism, government but a less mature brain may also take this on as personal stress.
It’s a fine balance for us as parents to deal with our teens and not create unhealthy stress. We need to motivate them and expose them to the world so that they are ready for it one day. However, we might also need to shelter them and let them feel safe. There is no harm in enjoying the end of childhood, they have the rest of their lives to be adults.
Posted in Education, Life, Parenting, Uncategorized
Tagged childhood stress, Depression, Education, parenting teens, Stress, teen boys, teen hormones, teenagers
Today, on my birthday, I received the best gift ever. My boys wrote lovely and thoughtful notes in my card. I know my boys love me and we have a great relationship but they are typical guys who don’t like to talk about feelings and definitely don’t want to write about them. They just say ‘you know I love you and you’re the best’. And while it’s true that I do know they love me, I’m a sap and I like to hear about the hows and whys.
I love my boys but can’t say I’m not a little envious of the moms of girls who come home and tell them all about their days. I remember telling my mom all kinds of stories in detail. She knew all about my friends and what was going on at school. My guys do talk but it takes a lot to get them started. They don’t seem to respond to ‘what did you do today?’. That gets a response of ‘nothing’ or ‘I don’t remember’. It takes a lot of creative questions to get them in a comfortable zone where they will start chatting. Sometimes, then they keep talking more than I expected.
These are my favorite memories with them because I want to feel connected to them. That is not always easy when you’re interested in different things and spend most of the day apart. One night, my older son wasn’t feeling well and had insomnia, so I told him he could hang out in my room until he felt sleepy. That night, while the others slept, we talked for over an hour about all kinds of random things. We discussed sports and girls and books and life. I even got to give him advice without getting an eye roll!
They are growing up and cuddling isn’t enough. We have to communicate to connect and that’s not always easy. But I’m loving the little men they are becoming and enjoying their minds and thoughts. They gave me the best birthday with their very personal notes and their fun gifts. Wonder Woman earrings and a Lord of the Rings necklace…gifts based on things we enjoyed together and talk about often. I’m so grateful to be able to parent these loving kids!