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Parents, check on your teens. They are struggling.
In this new world that we’re living in, we may be feeling the weight of this new reality. We may be feeling disconnected, lonely, fatigued, or anxious. All of these feelings are to be expected in this time of chaos, but there is one group of people who may be feeling these feelings even deeper than us as adults.
Parents, check on your teens. They are struggling. According to wholechild.org, teenage years are a time of social growth and development. Teenagers begin to spend less time with family and more time with friends. Their friends begin to play a bigger role in their life and they begin to assert themselves as their own person. With the shelter in place, teenagers are now being separated from their social connections in ways that they have never been before. Although they have social media, the inability to meet up and spend time with friends is facilitating a sense of loneliness in many of our teens. Without school, sports, clubs, church, and other social events, their outlets have now been taken away
On top of this, many of our high school seniors are dealing with the grief of missing out on events that they have looked forward to for many years. So if your teen is more irritable, more withdrawn, or more sullen, recognize this as a message that they are feeling the impact of what is going. Here are some ways to support your teens during this time.
- Check-in with them and give them space to share what they are experiencing. Some options are, “How have you been feeling about everything that is going on?” or “What have you been thinking about recently since being away from friends?”
- Allow them to express their feelings without trying to make things better. For example, say things like, “I see how you would feel that way” or “That would be really frustrating.” Do not say things like, “You’ll get over it” or “You’ll feel better soon.”
- Allow your teenager to have some control over their day. Structure is helpful, but allowing them to choose activities, meals, or their own schedule helps to assert some of that much-needed independence.
- Encourage creative or active activities. Go on a family walk, encourage art projects or journaling, or participate in family worship or game nights.
- Pray with and for your teenagers. Ask them what they need prayer for and offer to pray with them concerning the hardships they are experiencing.
Normalizing and honoring your teen's feelings, while pointing them to the continual hope in Jesus Christ can be exactly what your teen needs during this confusing time. If you feel like your teen needs an extra outlet during this time, The Well Counseling Center has many therapists who are skilled to help teens navigate the many feelings they are walking through during this time. Just keep showing up for your teen every day, even if it feels like they aren’t interested or they don’t want it. They’re listening and they need you.