Teenagers and Self Esteem: The Mini Versions of You
That awkward and critical stage where your child isn't sure if they like you. That stage of existence when everything you say, as a parent, is either embarrassing or completely wrong. When every attempt at corrective discipline is the most horrific punishment known to man and you are the doer of all evil. Then there is the fact that your teen also doesn't even recognize how beautiful, valuable and absolutely lovable they really are.
Not only do they dislike you as a parent, but many of them dislike themselves as a person. Teenagers and self-esteem is one of the most difficult topics to address. Our teens believe they are too fat, incompetent and are depressed and full of negative views of themselves. So parents, understand that while we are all trying to navigate those waters with our teenagers and self-esteem, our teens are also trying to navigate waves of their own.
I can recall being told many times that I was pretty, yet all I saw were my big, full lips and nose. I remember being told that I had an athletic shape, yet I just knew my butt was far too large and hips far too spread. My hair was too thick, my clothes too outdated. I wasn't as smart, I wasn't as popular....the list goes on and on. Of course, my adult self looks back on that teenage girl and would give anything to have her shapely curves again. My adult self wishes I had listened to my mother when she told me that I don't have to compare myself to anyone and if he loves me, he would wait. I learned some harsh lessons along the way.
So fast forward and we are now raising young people that resemble who we were and somehow we have forgotten that all that they feel, experience, believe and think, we were there. We want to protect them, so we fight hard to do so. But yet, trust me when I say, that mini version of you is more YOU than you care to admit. To truly love yourself inside and out doesn't happen because mom or dad say so, as you very well now. Truly loving yourself comes from those horrible and amazing and terrible yet exhilarating experiences that have defined us over the years.
Yet, even though we had to go through those crazy moments, I am wiling to bet you still remembered the love that your parents showed you during what felt like your darkest hour. You remember those nights you cried and they were there. You remember the moments you yelled at them that they just didn't understand and now you know without a doubt that they did. You continue to speak love into their hearts and minds. Know that they are listening, just as you were, even when it appears that they aren't. Encourage their successes as well as their efforts. Do it over and over and over again. Continue to be there for your teens, though difficult it may be.
Physically, you won't be everywhere. You won't be there when they are making those critical decisions to go with or against the crowd. You won't be in the classroom that day or the party on Saturday night, but trust me, you are there. You are there because you have prepared them by telling them they are beautiful, smart, handsome and encouraging them every step of the way. They will remember and eventually they will know that you are in their corner. You figured it out, right?