As a teacher of high school for over a decade, I often find myself much more comfortable with the needs of teenagers than the needs of my Pre-Schooler. For years I’ve been listening to their conversations – both verbal and non verbal – in an effort to better understand their needs, their lives, their emotions so that I can be better prepared for when my girls are teens. What I’ve found is that there is a disconnect between how my students perceive their parents and how their parents really feel. Many times, as parents and humans (and teachers), we get lost in the emotions of what we are feeling and can’t step back and listen to what they are telling us – with their words, reactions, and non verbal actions.
Here’s a place to start – I polled my 10th Grade Honors English classes (10th grade is the most difficult high school age) and narrowed down their angst to five things they wish their parents knew:
1. Breathing is not attitude. Sometimes I breath heavy. Especially when you’ve just yelled at me. It’s my way of getting out my frustration with the situation without smarting off at you because, quite honestly, I don’t want to get into more trouble. Sometimes, I roll my eyes, too. It’s a knee jerk reaction and I’m not purposefully being disrespectful. I’m just. Trying. To process. Can’t you give me credit for not really giving you attitude? I mean, if you want attitude, I can give you attitude.
2. Not talking does not mean I have attitude. Or that I’m depressed. Or that I need to talk. Not talking means simply two things: 1) I need to process, or 2) I have nothing to say. If I’m not talking to you it’s not because I’m trying to be rude, disconnected or that I need therapy to learn how to express my feelings. Sometimes, there are just no thoughts in my mind and I don’t have anything of value to add. That’s all. So please, stop talking to me.