I Wish My Teenager Would Panic a Little More
posted by: Catherine
I’m seething just a little bit as I write this, and my poor keyboard is getting the brunt of my frustration.
I have been addicted to my social media feeds over the last couple of weeks, so I’ve seen many articles about how to help our kids get through this unprecedented time. Suggestions for how to get your younger children to stay on track now that schools have moved online, tips for activities that will keep them busy, and how to talk to your kids without panicking them have been all over the news and social media.
What I need is an article that helps me panic my kids.
I have three teenagers, one of whom is home from college. She came home for spring break on March 9th and I suspect that she’s here for the rest of the semester (although her college hasn’t communicated that quite yet). We went through what many teens are experiencing: disappointment with canceled activities and the abrupt end to her freshman year in college.
But that’s moved on to, “Hey! The rest of my friends from high school are home from college, too!”
Being a mother to an 18-year-old during a quarantine is a little difficult; they’re legally adults, but you still hold the majority of the power. While I can say, “No, you can’t do that” to my 14 and 16-year-olds, that’s a little more difficult with someone who has lived across the country on her own for the last 6 months.
As many of us have experienced, I’ve fluctuated between feeling like I’m overreacting to feeling like I’m not reacting enough. I’ve done what the experts say as far as preparation, but when it comes to reigning in the kids and how much social interaction they’re allowed to have…that’s been more of a grey area for me.
However, it’s about to turn more black and white.
I’ve talked to other parents and asked what they’re doing (although I wish I had more confidence to just say, “This is what we’re doing”) and most seem to be in agreement.
So, why did my daughter just get home from a trip to buy a guitar with two of her friends?
I had given them permission to go through a drive-thru and have lunch at someone’s house. The next thing I know, they’re walking in the door with my daughter’s new purchase with little smiles on their faces like, “We know you won’t like this, but we did it anyway.”
And that’s when I started beating on my keyboard to write this blog.
I looked at those girls – those church-going, straight-A, amazing young women – and said, completely stunned, “I’m about to use a word I never thought I’d use about you three. You’re being selfish.”
I’ve tried to find the balance between being supportive and understanding about all they’re missing during the spring semester…and wanting to shake them and say, “Do you realize there are real problems going on out there? That you’re worried about a sorority formal while I’m watching the economy tank? That by doing what you’re doing, you could prolong this isolation even more?”
From the conversations I’ve had with other parents, I don’t think I’m alone in this. Yes, I want my children to feel safe and secure, but I’m starting to think they also need a wake-up call about what’s really happening. I think that they need to understand the bigger picture. At the very least, I think they need to have their car keys taken away.
Or maybe that’s just what’s about to happen in my house.