Did you ask your teen about school or assignments today?
I know you want your teen to have every opportunity to pursue their passions and dreams which means supporting them to fulfill their amazing potential. So it makes sense to have daily check-ins about attendance, homework and assignments, right?
Who is this really about?
Your intention to keep your teen focused and on track because of their concerning lazy, irresponsible, or aimless ways might be about you, not them. Hear me out…
Education to learn a craft or skill was almost the only ticket out of poverty just a few generations ago. Without that, you were destined for unskilled labor like factory work where the pay was limited. Now, education is still important to pursue passions that pay enough to live and even play a little, but the options and what that looks like are more abundant.
However, if you were raised in a ‘pass or fail life itself’, ‘do or die’ mentality, it might be driving an internal fear that’s projecting on your teen as micromanaging or seeing their performance a stop priority over who they are, learning challenges and even failing mental health.
Think about it. What emotion is most prevalent when you imagine your teen failing school?
This fear-based conditioning that also falsely connects parenting and raising ‘good’ kids with ‘good’ grades to your morality and value as a human is B.S.
It started in the early 80’s when the US noticed the regimented education systems in parts of Asia and conducted a nation-wide assessment of their own education system to see how students compared. The outcomes weren’t terrible by any means, but students in the US weren’t better than their Asian counterparts and therefore, they were now deemed as failing.
This created an overhaul of the US education system intended to help ‘pull up their socks’, including standardized testing at all levels. It was not so subtly made clear to parents a more hands on approach was needed so their child could attend the top schools and compete for the best jobs at home and in a growing global economy.
It was a perfect match.
This thinking fit well with an authoritarian parenting style that already lacked awareness of emotional intelligence and the overall benefits of parent/child connection. ‘Performance parenting’ quickly spread across North America and later to European countries and thus your parents’ obsession with grades began. So why would you think differently?
How about a global mental health crisis in youth?
In October of 2021, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) and Children’s Hospital Association declared a state of emergency due to soaring rates of mental health challenges among children and adolescents, only exacerbating the situation that existed prior to the pandemic.
Rates of childhood mental health concerns and suicide rose steadily between 2010 and 2020 and by 2018 suicide was the second leading cause of death for youth ages 10-24. Although the pandemic intensified this situation, these rates haven’t dropped significantly since a return to school and extracurricular activities.
Your teen is dying to feel seen. Literally.
All behaviour is communication. All behaviour is driven by underlying emotions. The harder you press for performance, the less your teen feels seen for WHO they are, questioning their worth and whether you really love them. Yes, even with everything you do for them.
They feel judged, condemned, shamed, and believe you only love them when they make you look good so it’s all conditional. They learn to love themselves only when they perform and punish themselves when they don’t. They lose respect for you, your rules/boundaries, and either push back or dig in further (spoken from personal experience).
What if they were trying and after multiple failures, they’ve decided they ARE a failure?
“So I just let them fail?”
One of the most common questions I get from caring parents struggling to motivate their teen to care about or engage in school. That question is based in black and white thinking triggered by the above date points and fear-based beliefs so even the thought is absurd and hard to be with.
Maybe they will fail, maybe they won’t. What I know for sure is this:
1) A GED is available at anytime but their mental health may not be.
2) Learning how to connect with your teen through emotional safety, true belonging and meaningful connection is possible, available and it WORKS!
If you’re ready to make 2023 the year you stop asking about school and start connecting with your teen in a way that’s proven to truly support their success now, and in the long term, click below to register for my FREE masterclass.
I’ve helped hundreds of parents to trust their teen’s doing their best while feeling calmer and more connected to them, without the daily nagging and reminders to get their work done.