Do you romanticize your teen years with memories of hanging out with friends, dancing at homecoming and participating on a winning sports team? Or do you remember the gory details of every breakup, every failed test and every bad hair day? Whether your memory is reality or revisionism, somewhere you must remember the feeling of stress.
Your teens are now confronting this stress. So, what part do parents play in resolving their stress and do you keep it from adding stress to your marriage. Unfortunately your teens will not bring every little detail of their stressor to you. So what you get is snide comments and back talking.
The stress comes for you when your spouse doesn’t agree with how you handle the issue. Before you know it, this unknown stress becomes yours a well. Every teen responds differently to stress. If you have more than one child, you probably witness this daily. Some teens seem to do it all, they work hard in school, volunteer, and participate in extracurricular activities.
Even as you marvel at their capacity to keep so many balls in the air, you also know that they can feel overwhelmed. Sometimes they are simply stressed out. There stress becomes your as soon as dad yells at them, mom disagrees with his approach and there you have it. Mom and dad are arguing over something that is not even clarified.
Teens are constantly dealing with demands from school, extracurricular activities, parental expectations, social pressures, time constraints, negative self-image and changes in their bodies. Occasionally, more serious situations are part of the mix, such as family conflict, divorce, death of a loved one, an unsafe living environment, family financial worries and worries about the future.
If there is family conflict and living environment issues it is very possible that you and the kids are sharing the same stressors at times. It is quite possible that they will handle it the same way you do. Do teens bring on added stress, yes. Do teens take on a lot of their own personal stress, yes. Will your marriage feel the effects of their stress, absolutely. The best way to help that teen is for mom and dad to remain calm and just be available to him or her.
Parents should learn to recognize stress in their teens. While people respond differently to stress, there are some common signs. For the most part, stress is a healthy response to challenge. It’s your body’s way of heightening focus, strength and stamina. When properly managed, stress enhances a person’s ability to perform quickly and effectively under pressure.
However, when a person has not developed successful coping mechanisms to ongoing stressors, such as being bullied, dealing with divorce, or juggling too many activities, the body begins to respond through physical symptoms. These include, but are not limited to, fatigue, insomnia, nausea or headaches.
With that said keep in mind that not every stressor that your teen is having is in dire need for mom and dad to fix it. You and your spouse have enough stress, why take on more from your teen? Besides, chances are you just might not have the answer. Then your teen is mad, then dad gets mad and now mom is mad. And guess what, teen still his or her stress and the added stress of causing a fight for mom and dad.
Personally, as parents, I think we also add to our teens list of stressor. Along with helping teens recognize and deal with their stress, parents can play additional roles. By using healthy stress management techniques, parents can serve as positive role models for their teens. Taking care of yourself, monitoring your own stress levels and living a balanced life impacts how your teen manages his or her own life. That’s good stuff if I do say so myself.