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Our Youth

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After listening to hundreds of students feedback ranging from Jr. to Sr. High, I can't help but wonder if I would know my own child's response if it were in front of me. In fact, I wonder if most parents would know their know their child's response. We're so good as parents, teachers and adults of just assuming we know best. We assume that because we like something, our kids will too. We assume they don't see parts of us we don't want them to see. We assume they don't pick up on the silence, on the tone, or the expectations we place before them. We assume that because our experiences have been a certain way, theirs must be the same. And that's assuming that any would engage in these deeper levels of conversation, with true honesty. I'm guilty of all of the above.

How many times do we, as parents allow our kids the platform to speak outside of "how was your day?" How many times do we take time to consciously engage in deeper conversations, on a more regular basis. How often do we self reflect on where things within our homes may need attention before pointing the blame on our kids or teachers? After all, our kids are simply repeating most of our own behaviors. Are we taking the time to really listen? I know I'm good for wanting to just fix it, or make it go away, instead of letting them feel and learn that feeling is part of it, even the not so pretty stuff. I want to make it all better instead of allowing them to speak for themselves and have a voice. Also guilty on all charges.

Are we aware of the apps that are on their devices, the messages or snaps being sent? Would we realize if they were self harming? Would we have any clue that the reason they're acting out may have more to do with what's happening on a device, at school or at home, then perhaps even the current situation? Would we know if they were hurting to the extent they've considered ending their lives? Sounds intense, right? Well, I invite you to get a glimpse into their lives, because I can promise you, it can be far different then they sometimes lead on, and these are plenty of our own children answering with these responses. Now that we've heard from parents and teachers, please, take the time to read, to listen and to engage in these deeper conversations in your homes. They're so desperately needed. They have voices, not only do they need to be heard, but they deserve to be heard, for they're powerful.

*Please note: The intention of this entry isn't to shame anyone, it's simply to bring awareness to our blind spots as adults, as we all have them, especially when it comes to our own children. It's simply to bring awareness to today's youth, they way they may be feeling and opening up a different dynamic of conversation at the dinner table.*

What do you feel is the biggest struggle being in SCHOOL?

"Keeping good grades and trying to be at your best 100% of the time".

"Being able to balance sports, homework and relationships".

"Feeling like I have to take on everything and make it perfect for my parents and friends to accept me."

"Always trying to fit in, I never know what music I should listen to, sports I should play or things I should like, just to get people to like me"

"Always worried about my next test or what my grade will be and if I'll get into college."

"Constantly being told and reminded I'm not good enough"

"Trying not to get caught up in judgement. That's all high school is, is constantly feeling judged by other students, friends and teachers".

"Expected to stay focused all day everyday, at school and at home".

"Feeling like teachers act like the students, trying to be cool or favoring or judging. Not having that safe place at school."

"If I'm not in sports, I don't belong"

"It can feel like a war zone some days, always trying to fit in and avoid being judged, it can be really tiring"

What is your biggest struggle at HOME?

"I am on my phone alot at home, most of us are. We used to eat together and do more things together, now I'm just always in my room on my device."

"My parents fighting over who is more right or who is the better parent"

"Switching houses constantly. I feel like once I finally get settled into one house, I go to the next."

"Always feeling like I need to be studying or on the court - it's never enough."

"My mom/dad struggle with anxiety and depression, it's hard not to be sad when they're sad or not get caught up in their emotional struggles."

"Trying to make my parents happy"

"Having parents that don't fight"

"Time management"

"My mom struggles with anxiety. It's hard to watch and it makes me have anxiety when she's having an attack."

"Addiction. My dad drinks alot, it makes it really hard on my siblings and I, we just try to avoid him so he doesn't get mad."

"Watching my sister have really bad depression and has to leave the home to get help so she stops hurting herself."

"My brother had a really bad last year, it was so hard on my family, I think it's better now though. I hope so."

"Listening to my parents talk smack about each other and to each other about who is the worst parent."

How can those around you better SUPPORT you?

"Just listen"

"Don't try and fix me all the time"

"Stop trying to make me be perfect"

"Just pay attention to me and what I'm saying and don't yell when I do talk"

"Ask me more questions and check in on me from time to time"

"Let me be imperfect"

"Let me be me, I'm not you."

**Please feel free to share to bring awareness to this important perspective!**


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