I'm not coming out………
As I sit contemplating the last 3 weeks our teenagers are overwhelmingly in my thoughts.
We have all been trying to come to terms with "The Lockdown" and adjusting to a new way of living.Whether that be adjusting to new ways of working, loss of finances, experiencing increasing anxiety or trying to spread our time across family in order to provide the support they need.
It has become very apparent to me that our teenagers have shown me how amazing they are at adapting to this change but also how painful an experience it has been for them too.I reflect back to my teenage years and how every emotion, feeling and experience was magnified.The highs and the lows, the strength of the elation and pain.I would ask any parent of teenagers just to reflect back, now, and remember the intensity of every interaction, every decision that felt like your very existence depended upon it.
Today our teenagers have been taken from every place of security, friendship groups, schools, colleges, sports team, dance schools, clubs etc. and told they must stay at home, with their families. All of a sudden everything that defines them is closed to them and they are having to find other ways to build those connections.
To some this may feel okay, they hated going out anyway and it gives them the opportunity to submerse themselves further into an insular world, maybe an online world that they love.This may well be their saving grace and their anxiety will appear as the world returns to a new normal in the weeks or months ahead.
Some will feel relief that they are no longer required to sit their GCSEs or A Levels.Others will be bereft that they are not going to be given the opportunity to show their academic ability.Interestingly, teenagers expressing both these standpoints have experienced anxiety about where they will go next."Will I be accepted at my chosen College or University?"
For others they will feel like a caged Lion, asked to share their space with Lions from opposing Prides.Teenagers naturally should be navigating and developing their independence, strengthening their identity and using this time to understand how they relate to the world around them.Being asked to stay home with their parents and siblings is perhaps the worst torture anyone can impose on them.It will feel hugely unfair and again they may retreat into an insular world of spending a lot of time alone & online.
As a parent to teenagers myself I am experiencing how much more I am now needing to be present and listen to them.However, this has to happen within their "new world" and not in the one I think they should be living.I started this Blog with the title "I'm not coming out…….".As parents it is our time to now get in with them, show them that we are finding it hard too, that there is no perfect solution to this.Equally, we need to still support them to grow their identity and independence but within the realms of being in close proximity to their families.We can still teach them to fly but need to adapt how we do this.My purpose is not to be prescriptive as every teenager and every family will be different.I would just like to encourage parents to really get into their world, encourage them, listen and be aware that staying connected is perhaps the most important life jacket we can give them.We will come through this, together, we will be stronger.
As I sit reflecting on how to conclude this there is only a few words that come to mind……
……..It's okay, I'm coming in!!!
Thank you so much to Rachel Tyler - Mosaic Counsellor who wrote this Blog for us x