by JULIA ABBOTT
(Editor’s note: Palisades High School senior Julia Abbott, placed second in the 2021 Optimist International Oratorical World Championships earning $10,000 in scholarship money. The Brentwood resident, who spoke on the theme “Healing the World with Optimism,” penned the story below, which expresses the love between a child and a mother. Circling the News has been saving it for a special day, such as Valentine’s Day.)
I’m very fortunate to have the mother I do. Recently, over a cup of ice cream in the Palisades, my mother and I talked about our relationship through my teenage years. I’ll be leaving for college in six short months, and the possibility of leaving my family is more and more jarring. The teenage years haven’t been a breeze, but I’m delighted to say we handled them pretty well. So, to any parents or teenagers in the same boat, I have some hard-earned advice to share.
Advice for Teenagers – from a teen:
Your parents are not responsible for your life and your choices. You are. Take responsibility for your actions.
Show your parents you care. I’m guilty of taking my mom for granted as well. When was the last time you did something nice for your parents? Make that today.
Treat your parents better than you treat your friends, coaches, or teachers. The relationships with your parents are more important; don’t treat them badly. If you’re prioritizing friendships over your parents, you’re prioritizing wrong.
Get off your phone. Yes, I sound like a parent. But, by getting off your phone, you’re showing your parents you care about them enough to give them your undivided attention.
Your parents are trying their best, even if you don’t realize it. Assume the best, and you’ll be surprised how often it’s true.
Everything your parents do comes from a place of love. There will be disagreements on what that means. Very few parents and teenagers have the exact same vision for the teen’s life. But, they want you to be happy, and they want you to have the best life possible. Their intentions reflect that, even if you feel the actual advice doesn’t.
Try to come at everything from a place of grace. It took a lot of work, worry, and expense to get you this far. A lot. So, maybe – just maybe – you can let your parents slide on this one. And the next one too.
To Parents – from a teen:
I’m sorry that we yell or sulk or slam our doors. Please know, nine times out of 10, our attitude has nothing to do with you. In my case, lashing out at my parents is mostly a by-product of other stressors in my life. We’re trying our best, even if we sometimes screw up.
Keep the lines of communication open. Make sure your kids know they can talk to you, and you’ll listen. Even if we’re not always the chattiest, leaving that door open does more for us than you know.
Find some common ground. Even if K-pop or social media don’t interest you, try to listen. In return, maybe you can find something to share.
Give your children room to grow – and fail. Strangely, this was the one piece of advice my mom was adamant went in the article. Don’t always push them in a certain direction. By making their own choices and failing, when necessary, they’ll eventually find themselves.
Try to create family activities. Trips to the beach, movie nights, or ice cream dates in the Palisades are instrumental to keeping any connection strong.
Teach your children to speak up. Life is hard, and there is going to be plenty thrown their way. The best thing you can do for your children is to make sure they’re never afraid to speak up. Your teenagers are going to start their journey to independence. When you’re not around they need to defend themselves.