Our cyber-powered culture amplifies adolescent pressures at earlier ages. For many, by the time they reach high school, there is a sense of urgency to be successfully established in a field of choice that has largely been determined by what youth believe will gain them acceptance and admiration by others: such as attending a top college, or getting into a field with high GPA barriers to entry, such as medical or engineering. (See Race to Nowhere).
Our children can harbor anxieties that can be counter productive and keep them from truly bonding with parents about the things in life that really matter (finding your own purpose, talents and desires; and preparing for life long learning).
From spring 2011 to 2012, there were two youth suicides in Granite Bay, and many more in surrounding communities. In order to get a better handle on how to build individual resiliency and help parents understand how to better to relate to their children through youth issues, a couple of surveys from students in Granite Bay revealed the following:
Primary youth stressors:
- Too much homework perceived as manipulation and control, not learning
- Micro-management by parents
- Fear of not meeting parents’ expectations & disappointing parents
- Concern for younger siblings feeling this pressure
What youth say they need from parents & educators
There is a belief that parents have no understanding of the demands on students today. They do not believe their parents lived through what they are dealing with…
- We need help with our problems, especially with achieving a balance and time/expectation management.
- Catch us doing some things right.
- Lay off. Stress and pressure is not all bad, but “their expectations are really high and we are not perfect.”
- Can teachers pace the work so it is more balanced?
- Talk to us without judging. “To have a conversation with no repercussions you can get a lot out of us.”
- Understanding that sometimes we need a break.
- Don’t nag. Sometimes “we just want a hug, not another person to tell us what to do.”
- Be more open minded.
- Having more teachers to confide in will help.
- Concerns about respect being a 2-way street. “If parents respect us, then we will respect them and their opinions”
Joanna’s two cents: Be prepared to meet each child “where (s) he is” – no matter how happy, sad, angry, discouraged their state of mind, and listen without fear and judgment; then speak truth with mercy. Put your personal desires aside, and just be present and interested in what their own heart and mind has to say. You will learn something to help you lead problem-solving, and your child will begin to see you as a trusted resource. For more on relating inherent authority to children, see Joanna’s book on parenting with confidence in the network.