Do Your Teens Know That You Adore Them?
by Rom Brafman Ph.D.,
Site Director at La Entrada Middle School
It recently occurred to me that few people I have come across truly believe that they are great. Women appear to be even more apt to have difficulties owning their greatness. Ask someone whether they think they are great and they’re likely to look away or stare at you looking confused: “What have I done that’s great?” It’s not about what you’ve done, it’s about who you are. The sad common denominator among those who do not see themselves as being awesome to the core is that their parents didn’t tell them that they are.
So sit your teen down, do it right now, and tell them how lucky you feel that they’re in your life, that they are a blessing, that you love their little particular habits, or the way they pronounce certain words, or the way they laugh, or insights that they’ve shared with you. And if you feel uncomfortable doing so–because maybe your parents didn’t do that with you–then overcome your discomfort and have the conversation anyway. It’s one of the best things you can do psychologically for your teens. And you should make a habit of it.
We live in an age of inflated cheesy self-esteem talk, where kids are told that they can achieve anything they put their mind to, that they are brilliant, that they are the best. So I get the reluctance about pumping up kids with mindless psychobabble. But telling them that they are awesome is a genuine statement of how you see them. And they need to hear it. Surely they’ll roll their eyes or quickly tell you, “I know, I know” so that you can stop, but And later on in life they’ll think twice before staying in a relationship that’s unhealthy or getting down on themselves when life gets tough.
If you love your teens, why hold back? Why not tell them how precious they are to you? How you feel amazed by the person they are becoming? If you’re going to err on one side over the other, it’s much better to err on the side of being too effusive than being too restrictive with letting them know how you see them. And make sure that they know that it’s not just that you think they’re great because their grades are high or because they’re staying out of trouble. They’re great because of the spark that they have, because they’re a fun person to be around, because they radiate a certain unique glow that is irreplaceable. Tell them that as often as you can and see them own it in their own lives and pass the appreciation on to others.