This post is in partnership with Responsibility.org, I am a proud #TeamResponsibilty ambassador, but that all opinions are 100% my own.
The world can be harsh especially for our teens. There is SO much pressure to be “successful” in sports, academics, and life. So, what can we as parents do to ensure that our children come out of the teen years as happy, confident young adults? Well, like most things, it begins at home.
“Being an adult, it turns out, is not about any particular checklist; it is, instead, a process, one you can get progressively better at over time―becoming more comfortable with uncertainty and
gaining the knowhow to keep going. Once you begin to practice it, being an adult becomes the
most complicated yet also the most abundantly rewarding and natural thing.”
The above excerpt was taken from Your Turn: How to Be an Adult by Julie Lythcott-Haims. Julie happens to be an exceptional speaker (check out her popular TED Talk on raising successful kids here), an NYT best-selling author, former dean of freshman and undergraduate advising at Stanford University, and she serves on advisory boards such as Common Sense Media, Parents Magazine and more.
I was fortunate enough to be hosted by Responsibility.org for a virtual summit in which Julie shared her thoughts and answered our questions. I was interested in her thoughts around societal pressures versus honoring our children’s unique individual successes and dreams.
As a first-time mom of a freshman in college with three teens quickly following in his footsteps I asked Julie how we, as parents, can prepare our children to deal with societal expectations. I feel like Mike and I do a pretty good job building our kids up at home but I noticed that once they walk out the door we don’t have any control on the pressures that current society puts on young adults ie.) competitive sports, getting into a “top” college, grades etc…
How We Can Best Show Up for Our Teens
I was happy to hear Julie’s response. She mentioned that when parents show up with pride even if their students aren’t achieving straight A’s or didn’t get into the top college they were hoping for, they are honoring their children where they are and this becomes a shield and sword for them to carry with them into the real world.
Julie asks us to consider the words that go around our dinner table or the carpool. If you can fill your kids up with love during these small moments, if our kids can step into the real world knowing that they are unconditionally loved and rooted for – no matter who they marry, what kind of work they do, what school they get into – they will have the strength to face cultural expectations in the future.
This gave me all the hope I needed. I felt a peace of mind drift over me. Broken down it really isn’t all that difficult to digest or take action on. Everyone, including us and our teens, want to feel unconditionally loved. That is our number 1 job as a parent. If we can accomplish this we have a much greater chance of giving our children a leg up over this world. I implore you to consider how you can fill your child up today and every day.
Below are some ideas to help you get started.
- Role-model the entrepreneurial pivots you have made in your career to show your kid(s) there isn’t one linear path in life, adjusting and pivoting as you change throughout life is rewarding.
- Give specific and timely compliments. “I really appreciate the effort you put into studying last night.” or “I can see why your friends enjoy hanging out with you.”
- Be excited for your kids when they are in the middle, not just when they reach an accomplishment.
- Teach your kids and encourage them to support others. Julie calls this “how up for humans” it’s the practice of asking others how you can help make their day better. You can ask on a scale from 1-10 how are you doing today. Then you can ask how you can take their day from a 2 to a 3 (or one up whatever their number is). This could apply to parenting moody tweens and teens, to partner relationships or helping kids navigate friendships too!
And, as always, try and facilitate open and honest ongoing conversations with your kids. This includes hard topics like drugs, sex, depression, and alcohol responsibility. You can find awesome conversation starters on Responsibility.org. Responsibility.org values of the
importance of a lifetime of conversations to build trust and confidence in our kids and it is why I am proud to be part of their #TeamResponsibility.