The Parenting Advice Teenagers want you to Know
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Parenting advice, what teens want adults to know - Episode 039
Parenting is hard work. There was not a single book that prepared me for parenting. It’s amazing, don’t get me wrong. My daughters gave me a purpose in this world. But some days, I feel like I am making mistakes that mean the difference between them going to Harvard or Alcatraz (come on- if you know me, you know there are never in-betweens).
But what do teens wish parents understood? How do they want them to parent? They really don’t want much! In fact, there is a lot I have learned from my academic coaching students that impacts my parenting.
We’re at the end of the year. I wanted to dive into what I’ve learned from my students, and what we as parents and teachers really need to be mindful of, because I think we forget what we went through in middle school and high school, and I think even more so, we don’t appreciate what students go through today.
I’m so fortunate to work with so many different students from sixth grade to college years, in Florida and across the country; because there are so many stories I get to learn about. Although my students are drastically different, there are certain messages that I hear shared across the board. I wanted to go into them today, because I think it’s really important – and I say this as a parent - that we remember that even though we were high school and middle school students once, it’s not the same experience that our kiddos are going through.
Let’s go through a couple of things I have heard this year, and how we as parents and teachers might be able to improve on it.
Four things Teens want you to Know
Put down the phone
Parents and teachers complain all the time that we’re on the phone, we’re on social media. We don’t care about the world because we’re so wrapped up in ourselves and our selfies but guess what? What are mom and dad doing when I get home? They’re on their phone. They’re on the computer. How can they tell us that we’re vapid and shallow, or that we’re not getting stuff done because we’re on the phone all the time when they can’t put down theirs?
As a parent, I’ve earned the right to say this: The first response is this: “Do as I say, not as I do, because I told you so.” But, I say that knowing that I’m guilty of it too. It is unfair to tell my kiddos that they need less screen time when I’m constantly on my own.
I think it’s fair to say that for adults and for teenagers, we’re not aware that we’re on it so much.
I’m the Queen of Google. You ask me a question about anything, and I have to find the answer immediately. For someone who is as curious as I am, Google is like the Holy Grail: Ask a question, get the answer right away!
It might take a second to look something up, but what does that second lead to- does it lead to “Oh, here’s a search.” “Let me post what I learned here,” or “Oh, while I’m on my phone, let me check my email…” Does it send me down a rabbit hole where one second turns into 10 minutes?
If I added up all those quick glances throughout the day, does it actually equal more time than I realized?
Old folks like me, what I encourage us to be more mindful of is this: are we practicing what we preach?
Yes, we had to live through childhood and we earned the right to tell our children what to do, but it doesn’t mean we’re right. What can we practice this summer to all put down our phones for some time?
· Is it locking technology away for a few hours?
· Is it making meal time phone and TV free?
Speaking of TV, don’t think that this argument is new. We dealt with this growing up, people Instead of talking about iPhones, we were talking about TV.
Hello: the TV dinner? The images of people bringing their dinner on trays to watch TV?
This is not a new topic. It just has a different face.
So, I challenge you to find a way to disconnect and maybe reconnect. If you are asking your kiddo to put the phone away, or turn off the Internet, or stop their Snapchat, what is it that you really want?
If they’re putting down their phone, what do you expect them to do instead? How are you going to engage with them? It’s a two way street, and I challenge you to accept that fact.
Don’t Dismiss Perfectionism
The other thing that I have learned is that perfectionism is NOT awesome. You may be sitting in class next to someone who that seems like has their whole act together and everything comes easy peasy lemon squeezy to them. There might be one or two kiddos who are actually that fortunate to have been blessed with that fairy powder, but not always. Sometimes they’re dealing with perfectionism.
Let me tell you. Trying all day long to achieve some standard that is unattainable is maddening. Not only is it maddening because of the pressure you put on yourself, it is very lonely. It’s very easy for us to say “Shake it off. Come on. You got a 97. That’s not a B. Look at my test, I got a C. “
That doesn’t help them to feel differently. Instead, it almost shames them into feeling that their emotions are invalid.
I would do that all the time as a kid. I would make comments to friends who made it look easy. But, when I finally started to care about school, when I stopped going to summer school all the time and started working on my master’s degree. Oh my goodness. To feel that way all the time, that I needed an A – I had a class where I had a B- and I’m still determined that I should retake that class just to get my straight As in my master program.
Perfectionism is not awesome. Kiddos, I wish I had the answer to take the need for perfectionism away. I don’t, but I do hear you. Trying to be perfect isn’t that perfect at all. If you see a student struggling with the pressures of perfectionism, I’m sure your heart is in the right place when you tell them to shake it off.
Trust me, as a mama who has a perfectionist daughter, I’ve done the same thing. We’re not trying to hurt you. We’re not trying to dismiss you. We just want you to feel successful.
Talk to your kids about that. Ask what you can do to make things smoother, to help them. It might be reaching out to a mental health professional. It might be reminding them that the school counselor could be available if they need help sorting things out. But, we need to have a conversation about it. Perfectionism is one of those pesky things where you think you had a conversation about it and things should be getting better, but it still festering and churning inside your kiddo’s brain. But, I encourage you to talk about it, and not just fix it.
If you’re trying to turn around your school experience and you have Fs in all your subjects. You bring home a B or C. Please celebrate that. Let us know that you recognize that we’re trying.
If we bring home a C and another F, celebrate that C before you turn your attention to the F grade.
Change is difficult. The way that people change is through failure. If we’re constantly recognizing the failure, why even bother trying to succeed?
Kids, if you’re not getting enough celebration at home, or at school, adults aren’t perfect. But, I also want to encourage you to not let anyone pee in your Wheaties. Don’t let anyone ruin your good experience.
Who likes Wheaties anyway?
Don’t let anyone ruin your success. If you worked for that higher grade, if you did something difficult for you, if you got out of your comfort zone, nobody has the right to take away the joy that you felt in that moment. Don’t let anyone take it away. Whether or not your teachers or parents are celebrating, you hold onto that tightly because it’s yours.
Remember that School is Hard
Figuring out school is tough. Figuring out who we are is really tough. It seems like adults are always telling us what we have to do –but how are we supposed to figure out who we are, if you keep telling us who we’re supposed to be?
How are we supposed to figure out school if you keep telling us how to do it? Where is “us” figuring out who we are and how to do things?
Doing nothing is not working toward anything, but if your parents and teachers backed off of you and you did nothing, that’s not how the process works. But… can we really expect them to do anything, if the skills haven’t been taught?
Maybe what needs to happen is a combination of teaching and letting them figure out their own way. I do this a lot in coaching, but I’d be curious to see how that would play out in a larger way.
We have to recognize that if we want kiddos to grow, especially those who struggle in school, telling them what to do might not be the way to go. It certainly didn’t work for me. Now, as an adult, I realize my life would have been easier if I’d listened to what I was told to do, but I wasn’t going to be that kid who just took what you fed me.
I needed to know the why behind the what, how it was going to impact what I was going to do in life. That’s how I learn.
If you have any ideas, I encourage you to join the School Counselor Gone Rogue Facebook group, start a conversation about it. Email me.
Those are some lessons I’m taking away from my students this year.
I have two very different reactions to all of these topics.
As a coach, I’m there for my students. I’m hearing these things and I’m helping them figure it out without telling them what to do, unless I’m given permission to give some suggestion and feedback. But, as a parent, it’s really hard to navigate these things, and I’ll be the first to say I mess up all the time.
I’ll also be the first to say that I’m scared out of my mind that I’m going to do something detrimental to my daughters’ happiness and growth in this world. Of course, that could be my perfectionism, but you guys have it not so easy these days.
I can’t even list all of the things that are difficult for you because things that contribute to life being difficult change on a daily basis.
But, I suppose that if my daughters were here, I’d want them to know that I’m trying my best. I’d want them to know that the only thing I want for them in their school experience is for them to be happy, for them to grow, and for them to thrive. To learn from mistakes. Mistakes are human.
It’s our job as parents to make sure that your mistakes aren’t completely huge and horrible, but you are allowed to make mistakes.
The doors will be opening for The Organized School Year: It’s a course I’m offering to get everything in order and organized. Get on the waitlist at www.teampasch.com/theorganizedschool year.
Hopefully I’ll see you this summer. Until next time, stay awesome.
Parenting middle school and high school children
Understanding perfectionism in children
How technology effects family communication
Marni Pasch| Host of School Counselor Gone Rogue| Academic Coach | Team Pasch Academic Coaching
I work with students in grades 6th and higher, who struggle with academic confidence and motivation. I help them survive school with less stress by helping them create concrete goals, tackle procrastination and learn creative study techniques. I empower students to take charge of their education and reach their goals. I do this through individual or group coaching so students achieve success in life, school, career readiness and their social endeavors. I provided in person academic coaching in Orlando, FL, but work with students across the country through Zoom!