Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Parenting the Teens of Today

It's been a couple of weeks since my last blog... and if you are an avid reader, you know that I HATE when I am not able to sit down and write; you also know that what this typically means is that life has been busy, or it has thrown me a wrench and it was necessary to re-prioritize my time. Unfortunately sometimes when that is what life calls for, the blog has to wait.

Over the last few weeks, I have had both personal and "teenage"matters to deal with and through it all I must admit I have found myself heavy-hearted and in a complete funk; something I am not used to being in. I have hurdles all of the time but I typically push right through them after maybe a day of funky-town; not this time, it had me down. I am happy to finally be on the upside of my personal issues... but am sorry to say that my teen is still struggling with hers. Luckily, I have my mental strength back and can now lend it to her.

When I was a teen, life was challenging, hurtful and not very fun for me. Sometimes when I look back, I wonder how I made it through. However, the way times have changed, things are so much worse for these newer generations; life is no longer simple in any way for them even when things are going good. My daughter Baleigh is a beautiful, bright, 13 year old young lady who was an advocate-pioneer type last year. She walked with her head held high, had tons of friends and graced the halls with the stride of a leader. Academically, she was an average "creative" student but by the end of the year her grades were suffering greatly and her self-esteem and pride slowly began to fade. We had some problems and difference of opinion regarding a very broken and troubled boy that had shown interest in her who also happened to show interest in a dozen other girls.... without details, I will share that the year did not end well.

At the beginning of this 7th grade year, I had a different child. The Vice Principal who has become a good friend over the last year saw the change in her as well, so we discussed it. That strong, proud, leader we knew had become mentally unrecognizable. I have been working with the school staff through all of this over the past several months; we joined arms like an army trying to save a country... and nothing was working. We talked with her, tried to get to the bottom of it all and failed to find the answers we were looking for. I was lost for answers and continued to struggle at home.... our relationship seemed nothing more than a battleground most of the time, almost everything was uphill and it truly broke my frustrated heart. These were the teenage years you hear of... the ones I hoped to never experience, the ones that my oldest daughter Cierra, now 22 had only mildly prepared me for. 

I am sparing the details for the sake of my daughter... but let me STRESS that you must hold them close at this age, you MUST snoop around their rooms, read what they are writing, look at the pictures on their phones, read their texts from time to time... and even check their emails once in a while. We live in a VERY different world and it is completely uncensored unless YOU sensor it. Their minds are bombarded with things that they don't understand and they are too afraid to come to us to ask; did YOU ask your parents about things at that age? No... and neither will they. Instead they ask friends who know nothing more than they do, or they Google it, or look it up on You tube. Do you KNOW what's out there?  People are unknowingly allowing the internet to raise their children because getting them out of our hair makes life easier.

Do you KNOW the stress that the education system puts on the shoulders of our children now? It is insane; even the teachers think so. It makes me want to bring all my kids home and school them myself. In this crazy fast forwarded world that puts everything out there, while knowledge that is ten times harder is being forced into their heads at lightning speed, what they are not learning is how to deal and cope with this information overload and inside many kids are simply falling apart. They are seeking their own ways to cope and when you find out how they are doing that you will be blown away, saddened and downright frightened. I thank GOD for allowing me to notice a change in my daughter despite my increasingly busy career... no matter how busy I am, I still notice my children, their behaviors, their actions and address them. I am also thankful that my oldest is back in Florida to help me snoop, because without her I may not have found out what I did, simply because I dread stepping foot into the unorganized disaster of a teenager's room.

In the eyes of most people I am REALLY old fashioned. My daughter no longer has a "smart phone" because I simply do not feel that she had enough self control or maturity to hold that much temptation in the palm of her hand. She does have a phone where she can reach me and I can reach her, that does not take pictures and I take it away every time she breaks the rules and abuses privilege of having it (which is 85% of the time) I limit television time, I don't have cable... but have Roku so I can monitor what they watch, our internet is screened, and I don't allow them to go to friend's homes that I don't know. I DO encourage them to go outside, to run around and play... to use their child-like imaginations and play games like Yahtzee. I encourage them to draw, paint, and play hide and seek because kids should be kids, they need to be silly and carefree. When they fall down, I tell them to get up and brush it off, I kiss the boo boo and let them know that they are okay. I don't helicopter parent or give them everything they want because they need to know the value of saving up for something, how to deal with life's disappointments, and know it has curve balls.The most important yet often the most heart wrenching thing that I do is hold them accountable for their behavior even when I would rather throw my hands in the air and give up; they must have consequences. Parenting is the most exhausting of all my careers but I am responsible for these cute little people and I honestly take it as seriously as I do my business. Not sure if that is good or bad, but it is me.

As I withdrew my daughter from her creative arts charter school yesterday, I knew it was the best decision due to the issue at hand regardless of the tears that rolled down her face and mine... I also realize that we have a long road ahead and it will likely get harder before it gets easier. but I won't give up. For those of you who pray... keep us in yours and for the rest of you ... toss out some positive vibes for a teen that I know can change the world.

The moral of the story I shared...

Life is full of storms... the hurdles are inevitable, sometimes they show up and smack you down without warning; adversity does not discriminate. There will be times when you will not understand why or how, when you have no answers and no energy left. Remember, the mountain is there to climb... all the beauty and victorious feelings are felt and seen at the top, so DON'T give up... do not allow that to even be an option. Hard work and perseverance will be worth it in ALL that you do; but falling down and staying down yields no rewards.

Until next time...







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