Parents of Teenagers: The Things We Don’t Talk About

I love Facebook. I can keep up with high school friends, college friends, and message board friends all over the world. Chances are you clicked this link from Facebook, as well. It’s a good way to connect with others.

But it has a downside–as much as it can connect us, it can isolate us, too. Because it’s easy to post about our triumphs and those of our kids. Becca has straight As. Dashiell got into his #1 choice of college. Susannah is running a 5K. What’s harder, especially as our kids get older and can read what we write about them, is sharing our struggles.

Parents of Teenagers: The Things We Don't Talk About

Let’s face it, we’re all busy. We don’t really have a lot of time to sit down with a group of our closest friends and acquaintances and talk about the real things. Sure, we try–maybe we have a book group (that’s really a dinner-eating group or wine-drinking group). But when we’re looking for advice–who is a good piano teacher? I’m going on a trip to Boston, what shouldn’t I miss? Who has the best mac and cheese in town?–we turn to Facebook to get recommendations from many of our friends at once.

I asked some friends what topics they would like to talk about, the things you don’t see written on Facebook for the world to see. Here are their responses.

Tyler is failing algebra. How can I get him help? Is anyone else having a hard time in school? It seems like everyone else’s kid is getting all As and scoring a 36 on their ACT.

Billy doesn’t get invited to the parties he sees on instagram. He thought those kids were his friends. Do your kids ever feel left out? Should we help, or let them handle it on their own?

Parents of Teenagers: The Things We Don't Talk About

Barry is really struggling. It seems like he’s up, and he’s down. And I don’t know if this is normal for a junior high kid, or if he might be dealing with a mental illness. Who can help? Whom can I even ask? I can’t post about this on Facebook–Barry can read it.

Stephanie doesn’t join in any clubs. There’s so many options at her school, but she doesn’t seem interested in any of them. Doesn’t she want to make new friends? What will she put on her college applications?

I’m afraid Nick is going to live in basement playing video games until he’s 35.

How much anxiety is normal for a teenager? When is it time to seek help?

The other kids at Winnie’s dance studio are being mean to her and claim they don’t want to share a dressing room with her because she’s a lesbian. Which isn’t true, and even if it were, so what?

Parents of Teenagers: The Things We Don't Talk About

I really don’t know how we’re going to afford college. We’re living paycheck to paycheck as it is.

Esther has been cutting. I know I’ve read about that, but what can I do to help?

I’m afraid Lewis has anorexia. I only hear about that in girls. Does it happen to other boys?

Parents of Teenagers: The Things We Don't Talk About

When am I supposed to help them and when am I supposed to let them handle things on their own? What’s the line between helicopter parenting and neglect?

These are just a few of the problems I heard that moms wanted to talk about, but couldn’t. Do you have any advice? Any questions you would like to ask?


Helpful Resources:

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

Mayo Clinic on Eating Disorders

National Alliance on Mental Illness


 

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Sharon Falduto is a Central Iowa native who came to University of Iowa in 1991 and essentially never left the area. She is involved in local community theater, notably as one of the co-founders of Iowa City's Dreamwell Theatre. She has also directed children's plays with the Young Footliters group. Sharon works in with English Language Learners in a support position at Kirkwood Community College.. She lives in Coralville with her husband, Matt, and three daughters Rachel, Samantha, and Piper.

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