This article is written by Erin Lawler Patterson
For more on this topic, check out the full All About Teens collection
What if you had to switch places with your teen for a day? How do you think you would fare? It’s difficult to wrap our heads around how challenging it is to be a teen in today’s world. The truth is it isn’t what it was fifteen or twenty years ago; technology has blown all of what you knew out of the water. It’s a whole new ball game.
If you had 24 hours in their shoes what would you learn and how would that play a role in your outlook on the decisions they have to make? I can guarantee emotions would run the gamete, but you would gain a heap of insight.
Ok, so switching places isn’t an option, but having worked with teens for fifteen years I’m going to give you the inside scoop on WHAT they don’t know they NEED to know.
So here it goes….here are three great rules to abide by as a teen that will make life less dramatic and more enjoyable:
- Your peeps: Friends are an investment, so invest in those who treat you like you want to be treated, don’t talk behind your back or put you in compromising positions. On occasion ask yourself, do the people I spend the most time with make me feel good about myself? Do they make me a better person?
Your friends in high school will not be with you when you’re sitting next to your spouse or at your workplace in 10 years from now. Don’t make a decision because of them that may jeopardize your future. It’s not worth it.
Truth is…there are decisions you will make that can alter your final destination….
- Social media: Here’s my motto: don’t post, tweet, text or Snap Chat anything you would be uncomfortable having your grandparent see. Did you know colleges and work sites have full time employees looking up your accounts? Every day someone loses a scholarship or their dream job is withheld because of something they posted in their past. Whether it’s jumping in on a Twitter war, sending a naked picture to that boy who really likes you (by the way if that boy or his friends forward that picture they can face charges of distributing child pornography that will be on their record) or Snap Chatting (did you know you don’t own the images, Snap Chat does?) that super fun party where people are intoxicated….think before you send.
There is a fallacy that because an account is set as private (which many are not) that pictures and comments cannot be retrieved. What you need to know is that anything can be found, anything. Kids have been arrested for threatening to kill someone via text or Snap Chat (even though they swear they would never do anything) and kids have killed themselves over these threats. Your words, your social media postings are your responsibility. Be smart, think before you post.
- Clean house: Your four years in high school should not be the best four years of your life. If they are, that’s a bummer. Realize that high school is the ideal time to work on yourself because you have the time if you make the time. Make yourself a priority. When we’re mentally in a good place we have the tendency to make better decisions and enjoy life more.
If you have anger issues, are battling depression/ anxiety, are being bullied, maybe you went through or are going through different forms of trauma; make yourself your own project. Seek out counseling. Whether that is through your school guidance department, a local counselor through your insurance (there are programs state or county wide that may offer free or sliding scale services to 18 and under).
We spring clean our rooms dusting and sweeping to keep it from getting super gross, then why would we not do the same for us? There is one you, not keeping your mind in a good place isn’t fair to you or the people around you.
Being a teenager is tough stuff and being a parent of a teen can often pose challenges in itself. Chat with your teen about where they’re at in middle school or high school. Dialogue about the above three areas and get their thoughts and outlook. They face incredible challenges and pressures, but when they know that we have their back and we are approachable it can alleviate a little angst on their end and ours.
We may not be able to switch places with them, but we can try to get into their heads with dialogue. Have a monthly date set aside to grab an ice cream, shoot some hoops or do something you both enjoy. It’s funny how chatting is a little easier when we don’t realize we’re chatting and it isn’t the main focus.
Wishing you less stress, more insight and some great strategies for your journey as a parent of a teen. Peace, love & goodness!
*For more on this topic, check out the full All About Teens collection*
Featured Contributor: Erin Lawler Patterson
Erin Lawler Patterson is a mom, high school addiction’s counselor, blogger, world traveller and author. As the Goodness Chick, her mission is in laying the groundwork for a healthy home addressing mental health, drug trends, addiction & providing parenting advice on raising teens.