Blessing in Creation!

Blessing in Creation!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Press On or Stress On - Finding the balance for your teen

As I have been researching teen depression, I have come across several articles linking stress and depression. It has confirmed many of my concerns and suspicions that the busy 21st century family life has aided in making life more complicated rather than simpler. And this busy complicated life can lead children to experience stress and anxiety, or even depression.

As I race around town taking my kids to music and sports activities while they squeeze homework in between one appointment and another, often grabbing dinner on the the run, the reality of the busy live is evident. We live in an era where we have so many opportunities at our fingertips that we don't want our kids to miss out an anything lest their application for college be passed over for a more well rounded and more developed applicant. So we fit in music lessons, sports, attend as many cultural events as possible, and take advantage of every enhanced educational opportunity there is.

I calculated the other day that my kids spend an average of 35 hours a week at school, 6-15 hours a week on homework, and 5-10 hours a week with music and sports. Then there are chores and church added on. They spend more time on requirements than the average adult does at a full time job or a full college schedule.

Now I believe chores, church, and family events are important additions, even for adults with full time schedules, but I am talking about kids here, who will never have the chance to regain their childhood after it's over. Are we expecting too much and pressuring them only to succeed in changing carefree childhood memories into stress and anxiety that can plague them into adulthood?

Now, I am not saying there shouldn't be expectations or that we shouldn't take advantage of opportunities. Only that we need to find a balance between striving to excel and allowing childhood to be fun and full of happy family memories. I want my kids to like going to church, have fun at family events, and enjoy being home. I hope for them to develop a healthy relationship with their dad and I that will last into their adulthood. I long for memories of laughing together at the dinner table, and being beat at Monopoly. Spending time playing baseball in the backyard can be just as important as making the select soccer team and singing songs together off key can make a much better memory that daily music drills. Good memories help kids develop into healthy adults; too many expectations for achievement and performance can lead to stressed out adults. The teen years are key to developing healthy adult lifestyles and perceptions. This is their last chance to be kids and our last chance to parent with this degree of influence.

If kids are showing signs of stress, it may be a good time to reevaluate the schedule. Are they sleeping well, has their appetite changed, how about their grades, interest in activities? Are they acting out, isolating themselves, or beginning self destructive behaviors such as smoking, drinking, or drugs? Is it time to slow down, reevaluate, or seek help?

As I reflect on our own busy schedule, I long for the simple life when families actually had time to sit together and talk during meals. I admit, I am envious of the Waltons. My kids are now 11 and almost 13. We are just approaching the teen years and I realize it it is not too late to slow down and change course. I don't want to pressure and overload my kids; I want them to succeed, but I also want to enjoy every minute of their childhood that they still have. And I am starting with today.


  1. I think you are so right. We try to always have supper together every night so we can all be together in a relatively relaxed manner and just chat. We try not to bring up anything stressful... but talk about our days and what happened that was interesting or funny.

  2. Great idea for a post and an article. I loved what Valerie said about the dinner table.