(Inside: Struggling teens are still great kids. Here’s what you should know about the adolescent years and how families can help.)
Just because your teen is from a loving family, doesn’t mean they won’t struggle.
Good kids flounder.
They sometimes lie to self-preserve.
Cheat on tests or assignments.
Battle mental health.
Feel low confidence and self-worth.
Have difficulty with follow-through.
Fumble through peer relationships and social skills.
Chase after the shine of alcohol, drugs, partying, and posting “that picture.”
Aren’t helpful around the house.
Lack joy and positive outlooks.
Don’t choose to be respectful.
See the thing is, when I started teaching high school, I thought with experience and desire to be a great teacher, I’d figure out how to have the “perfect year.” I’d create the healthiest educational environment and handle every situation with such learned professionalism that I’d consistently bring out the best in teens, and they would always rise. In my utopia classroom, big kid struggles wouldn’t happen.
My 22-year-old self really thought this, bless my sweet heart. All the hugs for my optimism.
Twenty-plus teaching years later (and now also in parenting teens), I’m still hearing parents share their kids’ challenges to find confidence and real friends. I see families weigh their teens’ choices with confusion and pain. I catch great kids tucking cheat sheets in their calculators. I watch teens struggle with working together, getting homework turned in, staying off phones, skipping classes, and dealing with life. Despite my experience and teacher goals, I still see teens not fully understanding how highly capable and wonderful they are.
And these are good humans. Kids with loving families and supportive homes.
(And, yes, we know trauma at home has a crippling impact on kids, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m focusing on caring homes.)
You see my “perfect teaching year” (and now raising-teens-year) has never come.
And it never will because my shiny-new-educator-self missed the whole point of teaching our youth and what that daily looks like.
The teen years are when our kids are transitioning from being kids to adults: it’s when BIG LEARNING is happening.
They’re learning what’s important in life.
They’re learning which routines work for them and how to lead a healthy lifestyle.
They’re learning the daily steps it takes to develop work ethic and achieve goals.
They’re learning how to understand their big emotions and self-cope.
They’re learning when to reach for help.
They’re learning what they’re interested in and what direction they want to go.
They are learning who they are and how to be a person of integrity.
Up. Down. Plateau. Back up then down again
Parents who are trying so hard, hear me on this: you are not doing anything wrong. You aren’t going to have the “perfect year” either. Teens simply will struggle because this is a season of LEARNING.
But in it, there’s an opportunity.
A sacred one.
There’s a nudge to remember our calling as moms and dads. To guide, teach, parent, nourish, support, and keep showing up, over and over with a don’t-hold-back, reckless-abandon, whole-hearts-wide-open fierce love.
Because our kids will struggle, that is a part of growing and maturing, but our homes, loving families, us – we will help get them through.
Is your teen struggling over daily expectations, including getting schoolwork done? Read more about my family’s experience and how we learned a new way to communicate. Our story is explained in the description here.
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Your brain bounces between your day at work, what time(s) your kids need to be at practice, your teen’s missing school assignments, that you haven’t called your mom lately, the load of the laundry to be switched, “What’s for dinner?” and “Why are 3 of my brain-tabs frozen?”
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Cheryl is a mom of 3 boys, wife, speaker, high school teacher, and author of Empowered Moms & Kids. She has a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and is passionate about learning and teaching. On www.empoweredmomsandkids.com you’ll find inspiration and encouragement for moms raising tweens and/or teens. Read more in the “about” section of this page.