Dear Mom of an anxious teen

 

We know you want your daughter to succeed. We know you want your son to do well in school so he can get into a good college and a great career. We know you love your teens deeply and have their best interests at heart.

But they’re not happy. I’m not talking about the typical grumbling we all did as teenagers. We’re seeing kids with unprecedented levels of anxiety and depression. We’re seeing kids with schedules that a surgeon or corporate attorney would find stressful. They’re in the high-ability program, taking all the dual-credit classes, playing school and club sports, and performing in band and show choir, desperately trying to fit their homework into the moments in between or before they collapse from exhaustion. And they’re just plain miserable.

But wait, you exclaim. She’s really good at it. He’s asked to do all those things. She really loves soccer. Sure, I may be pushing him a little hard, but it’s for his own good. How else will she get into the right college? How else will he succeed in life?

And there’s the word that stops me every time: success. How do you define that word? Will you consider them successful if they end up in a career where they work 15 or 16 hours a day, come home exhausted, and do it again the next day? Because that’s what they’re learning to do. They’re learning that success is all about being crazy-busy. Their schedules are completely out of whack, and they have no time to enjoy life.

But he loves basketball, you protest. Does he really? When you saw him on the bench at Saturday’s third game, did he look happy? He’s trying to convince you that he’s enjoying himself (because it means so much to you for him to get a scholarship), but he told me that playing hasn’t been fun for years. Your daughter loves doing both track and show choir, you say? Have you noticed how much caffeine she guzzles every day just to keep up with everything on her schedule?

Day after day, when I ask adults their own struggles, they say they just can’t keep up. It’s all they can do to keep their heads above water. Are you teaching your kids to do the same thing? I want your daughter to be a successful, too, but I want her to measure success in joy and in satisfying relationships with those she loves. I want your son to get into that great college, but I think it’s more important that he know how to find peace and balance no matter which career he chooses.

When was the last time your daughter hung out with her friends, killing time as only teenagers can do? When was the last time your son and his buddies goofed around in the backyard? And how long has it been since you sat down as a family and laughed over a favorite board game or that silly movie you love to watch? When did you last notice a breathtaking sunset? How long has it been since you just plain lost track of time?

Maybe it’s time to rethink the meaning of success for your kids. Maybe it’s time to make peace a priority. And if you’re not sure how to begin, we’ll be happy to guide you. We’d much rather do that than help your teen dig her way out of the depths of despair. Call us today. Our professionals have immediate openings.

 

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http://www.caretochange.org/exactly-anxiety-depression/

http://www.caretochange.org/mood-drops-temperature-sad/

http://www.caretochange.org/note-mom-whos-afraid-isnt-measuring/

http://www.caretochange.org/dear-parents-teenage-girls/