I Realized My Teen’s Life Is More Stressful Than My Own

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Like most parents, I’m guilty of telling my teens that they have no idea how easy they have it these days. They don’t pay bills, they aren’t struggling to strike the perfect work-life balance and they don’t have things like a mortgage, retirement funds or even taxes to worry about. They only have to think about their schoolwork since everything is taken care of by their parents or guardians.

I would swap lives with them in an instant. At least that’s what I thought and went on to say as much to my teen daughter. While I didn’t expect her to agree with me, I certainly never expected her to set me straight about my misconceptions. Her patience finally snapped one day and she sat me down and explained just how stressful her life was.

I was shocked. I’d never thought that she and other teenagers had so much to deal with, but I was wrong.

Teens Deal With Hormones, Anxiety, And Depression

Adolescence brings its share of challenges, but how many of us parents pause to think of how difficult this stage is? My daughter has to deal with acne, periods and body image issues all while trying to score top grades. What’s worse, she has to cope with the external pressure brought about by social media to live the most glamorous, put-together life that no normal teen can achieve.

It’s no wonder most teens buckle under the pressure, ending up suffering from anxiety, depression and other psychological issues.

There Is Pressure To Stand Out While Still Fitting In

Teenagers are at a point in their lives where they’re finding their identity. I have watched as my daughter struggles to define herself while still keeping pace with her friends.

If she stands out too much, she risks being ridiculed or ostracized and this kind of peer stress has been found to be a leading cause of depression among young adults. As she strives to forge her identity, she also has to deal with conflicting messages from her parents, peers, and society on what’s acceptable and how she should behave.

Teens Lack Full Control Over Their Lives

Another stressor my daughter pointed out is the lack of autonomy teens face. Simply put, their lives are not their own. In a traditional school setting, for instance, they are told what to study and what schedule to follow. Even their leisure time is sometimes planned out for them, e.g. when they’re given schoolwork to complete during the summer vacation or Christmas break. How many adults would put up with being asked to finish some work over their vacation?

After our chat, I realized that my teen’s life is actually as stressful or more so than my life. To make things worse, she and her peers have to live with the knowledge of an uncertain future, thanks to a rapidly automating world.

With technology taking over so many aspects of our lives, there’s no telling what careers will look like in a few years to come. Add that to the pressure of choosing a suitable college, choosing what course to study and taking on student debt, and I felt that they really do have a lot to deal with on a daily basis.

So from that moment onward, instead of invalidating my teen’s struggles, I decided to be a more supportive father.

Cindy Price would like to say she's a parenting expert but she knows better than to do that. As a parent educator and writer for over 15 years, she's well-aware how quickly parenting practices evolve. Family is her greatest joy and she hopes her writing can help make families stronger.