Your teen needs you to read this… every word.
I was fortunate to be the ‘smart kid’ in school and in Grade 1 I was asked to skip ahead. My parents decided against that to keep me with peers my own age (my dad skipped 3 grades and it has pros and cons). Instead, I was given my own reading and math books and socially ostracised for being the teacher’s pet which wasn’t what my parents intended.
Fast forward to Grade 4 when that *#$&^% phrase started…
“You’re not living up to your potential.”
Followed closely by, “You’re like a car in 3rd gear.”
Year after year, every single report card and parent teacher interview, I heard those phrases, along with a few others:
“You’re not trying hard enough.”
“You’re not doing your best.”
“You’re not who we want you to be.”
“You just need to apply yourself.”
“You’re disappointing us.”
“You ARE a disappointment.”
“You’re not lovable.”
Some of those cutting, shaming statements were in my head, and some were said to me repeatedly. I was already getting straight As and helping other students with their work, what wasn’t enough? I felt confused.
My parents saw opportunities for me to create better than they had.
They came from little, from emotional neglect, abandonment and trauma and hadn’t experienced meaningful positive feedback or kindness so giving those to me was foreign.
Pointing out and focusing on the gap between where I was and their highest possible dream for my life, something that lived only in their imagination, was what they’d learned was motivation. Reminding me of how I was falling short of how they would live my life with my gifts was supposed to inspire me to greatness.
Those seeds of shame were continually planted.
Having no other truth or coping skills to think otherwise, I watered them daily as a diligent daughter desperate to feel loved. Despite working hard to achieve perfection in school, sports and even my body size, those seeds grew into self-loathing and self-hatred that cast a long shadow over anything noteworthy about me or my life and almost took me out.
If only my teen was getting straight As!
Aly you don’t understand, I’d NEVER shame my teen if they just tried!
Yet I get comments like this every day.
“If they would just show up to class and hand in assignments instead of lying, skipping school, or laying in bed all day because they’re ‘depressed’.
It’s my job as a parent to raise a responsible and accountable human but they’re just lazy and unmotivated! I’m exhausted by the daily emails from the school, monitoring their attendance and grades and hounding them to just do the work!”
Your teen is having a very different experience than you’re intending.
This is the kind of message I get daily…
“I am currently in grade 8 of middle school and about 3 months left of school and I’m failing with a 30. I don’t know what to do. Believe me if they saw my 30 I would be in deep hell..”
You’re not a bad parent or failing. Are you willing to be an open-minded one?
Your teen is banking on it. They’re desperate for a change, but they don’t know how to ask for it. They’re afraid, and their current stress level makes it nearly impossible for them to access creative thinking necessary to develop healthy coping strategies. This isn’t an excuse, it’s science.
Becoming your teen’s academic ally.
I was your teen-going from enthusiastic, outgoing student with As to Fs, skipping school and failing out. I never stopped caring or lacked motivation. I was afraid to try and fail harder, not knowing how to try differently, so I avoided all of it as my only defense.
I knew exactly what I wanted and needed from my parents, but no one told them or my teachers. You can change that for your teen.
I’m hosting a masterclass and sharing the top 3 mistakes EVERY parent makes and WHY those drive even more defiance and painful disconnection.
Education is important, but it doesn’t need to be the daily argument between you and your teen that continues to erode your relationship.