In the endless stream of advice we offer our teens, it is far too easy to fall back on clichés, well-worn turns of phrase or unquestioned ideas that contain only a shred of truth. Sometimes when I am heaping these meaningless, or worse, harmful, words on my kids I stop and think, is this really true or have I just heard it so many times I have come to accept it as truth? Here are a few of the aphorisms I have at one time or another offered up and why, instead, I owed my kids the truth.
Eight Lies Parents Tell Teens:
1. College is the best four years of your life. College may be three and a half, or three or two of the best years of your life, or it may not. College requires a period of adjustment. Moving to a place where you know almost no one and there are few true friends is not a recipe for instant happiness. Freshman find themselves lost or homesick and all of that is normal. What isn’t normal is thinking you will wake up your first morning at university and all will be great. But when we tell them that there are four years of fun in store, and it turns out not to be strictly true, pain, disappointment and a feeling of “what is wrong with me” can follow. One of my kids described college as a time of high highs and low lows and that may be just about right. Today, as a mom, I would have a hard time arguing that the best years of my life came before my children existed.
2. You need to find your passion. If you find a passion in high school or college, that is a wonderful and fortunate thing. But you may not find it there, or any where and that will not stand in the way of having a happy, productive, caring and successful life. Do not sweat this one, it may be one of the biggest lies we tell our children and ourselves. When we feed our kids this lie we send them to chase something they may never find.
3. Keep all your options open. I am guilty of this one, of telling my kids to commit to nothing and try not to close any doors. Life isn’t lived by standing in hallways, immobilized by indecision, but rather by bursting through those doors, jumping at an opportunity and, if it fails, regrouping and trying again.