This happens to me all the time. Call it coincidence, call it karma. Whatever you call it, I really do believe that you call to you what you need.
Anyway, just today I was thinking about teenagers. Ours and other people’s. You see, one teenager we know has been worrying her family because of how sullen and withdrawn she has become. She used to be a very sweet little girl. Most of us would chuck it up to typical teenage angst. Most of us say she’ll get over it.
It seems to me, that this ‘phase’ is such a waste of time and energy. And truthfully, there are a lot of kids who just don’t ever get over the ‘phase’. It escalates and manifests into different issues that affect them for the rest of their lives. Take the story I just read from Trent about a gifted child:
Recently, I’ve been puzzling over how exactly to feel about the progression of a child I met several years ago. When this boy was about ten, he gave one of the greatest presentations I’ve ever seen in a science fair environment. He had the most complex project there and knew it from top to bottom, answering every question that any judge could throw at him in a clear and concise manner. He was also one of the most popular kids there, running around and talking to most of the other children.
Needless to say, I was impressed, and I’ve occasionally Googled him just to keep tabs on how he’s doing. A few days ago, I found his MySpace page. Most of it was filled with a mix of corporate logos and some bragging about his physique and about skipping classes. I was stunned – I wouldn’t have believed it was the same kid if it weren’t for the pictures.
So I contacted a few people just to see what was up. It turns out that about a year after the science fair, his parents (who were extremely involved, wonderful people) had a very, very messy divorce, and after the divorce, neither parent was really capable of giving the child the same kind of attention and focus he received before. So he just drifted and now he’s a C and D student who is a regular in detention.
It’s troubled me a lot. Here was a kid with all of the intellectual and social opportunity in the world, and just at the point where he needed guidance the most, it all fell apart for him.
I didn’t have enough of a connection with this child to serve as a mentor myself, or else that’s what I would do. Instead, it just weighs heavy on my heart. I think I’ll be remembering him for a while, particularly as my own children begin to grow up.
See, a lot of times it isn’t just a phase. There are underlying issues that usually cause these teenage angst. They could be minor they could even be trivial but the impact on our children’s lives could carry long lasting effects.
Going back to our friend’s daughter. Adults in her life complain how difficult she has gotten. Her father complains she doesn’t talk to him in complete sentences anymore. She seems to be mad all the time. I wish I could tell him, wouldn’t you be mad too if your parents, who have never married, shuttle you back and forth between their houses? How would you feel when, on the designated weekend you have with your father, he chooses to spend it with his girlfriends instead and sends you to grandma’s house? How would you feel when, on the days you are at his house, his friends and girlfriends are in and out of the house and he entertains them instead, leaving you to watch TV and play on the computer all day? How would you feel when, the times you talk to adults in your life, they tell you you’re whining before you could even finish?
Wouldn’t you stop talking to them too?
I truly believe that all children are gifted and that they all have it in them to succeed. It’s too bad that often the problems of the adults taking care of them prevent them from being the best that they could be (as cliche’ as it seems).
Now I’m not saying all this because I think I’m doing all the right things with my teens. I’m saying these because these are my worries too. I worry that I’m not being supportive enough, then I worry that maybe I’m coddling them to much. I worry if I’m doing enough or if I’m doing too much. I worry whether what I do even makes a bit of difference in how their lives will turn out. Then I realize, I’m a mom and that’s what we do. We worry…
And we worry even more when we hear stories of teens who lose their focus because the adults in their lives lost theirs.