I have communicating with adolescents on my mind since I am facilitating a workshop at our local Middle School on the topic at the end of October. Last night my 12 year old daughter gave me pause for thought when she shared with me the following, "Mom, I had a real happy moment today!" All smiles and full of great energy and this was later in the evening just before bedtime. "How wonderful, tell me about it."
She went onto explain that since the start of the new school year she has been sitting with a new group of girls since they changed teams and she really didn't know anyone on the new team. She said she hadn't been 100% sure if they were 'real' friends yet and if she was fully 'in' their group beyond sitting at the same lunch table each day. Lunch dispersed and she had to grab something from her locker and when she came back the girls had waited for her so that they could all go up to class together. This small, simple act, completely invisible to anyone who might have been watching was her 'happy moment'. In that one instance she felt that her whole entire seventh grade year was finally coming together. She felt accepted, she felt supported, she felt that she had some good friends.
Let's bear in mind that this is one full month into the start of the new school year, which just goes to show that the 'back to school process' takes time. Especially in the middle and high school years, the kids have so much on their minds, from school work, homework, extra curricular activities, social lives, body changes, the list goes on. I am certain if we each think back to our middle and high school years we will find ourselves recalling social situations versus academic ones.
It can be very easy for us to forget this when, in the few hours we have at home with them, we are also thinking about homework, getting to and from activities, making sure everyone gets some dinner, and preparation for the next day. Where is the time for the kids, and parents for that matter, to really process all of the new social situations they are finding themselves in each day?
Madison sharing her story with me brought back seventh grade memories of my own, a time when all was good with the world and I had a fantastic friend to hang out with at break times. It was nice to relive that moment and to get back in touch with my seventh grade self so that I can stay in better touch with my seventh grade daughter. I also seem to remember mascara featured a lot, much to the nuns chagrin!
My friend Danica Trebel, a Life and Family Dynamics Coach and graduate of the Parent Effectiveness Training Program that I teach, wrote this fantastic article this week, also on the topic of communicating with teens. In it she also reminds us to get back in touch with our younger selves to strengthen our relationships with the young adults in our lives. I love it and hope you will as well (Article: The sound of silence: 4 keys in dealing with teenagers
Here's to more happy moments!