I walked into the kitchen and saw my girl sitting at the table with her books and papers and laptop open in front of her as she hung her head, looking exhausted and defeated. I asked her how she was doing and by the look on her face, I knew she wasn’t doing well.
She looked at me and began to cry.
I went over to her and held her, as she poured out her frustrations, her sadness, her conflicting emotions about everything going on in her life as I listened and tried to comfort her with assuring words of understanding, “I know honey. It’s all so much. I’m so sorry. I know.”
Things piled up too high. The stress was too much. She had tons of school work to do and little time to do it. She had been trying to manage a busy schedule- full of good things, but there wasn’t enough time to do it all and she was exhausted from trying. She was missing the sport she decided to quit to pursue more important activities she dreamed of doing, but she was mourning the loss of that life she had lived for years.
She had been struggling in a conflict with a friend, who had broken her heart and her trust- casting a shadow of tension and anxiety on the rest of her social life that often included that friend.
With all she was trying to handle and all she was attempting to do, and all the stress of what she was going through…
She simply needed to have a good cry.
Afterwards, she blew her nose and took a deep breath and said, “I don’t know why I’m just so emotional right now. Thanks mom.”
And I told her, “Honey, you have so much going on. You just needed a good cry.”
What Our Teens Need Through the Tough Teen Years
Sometimes they need reminders for all the things they seem to forget.
Sometimes they need a lecture for being careless with their responsibilities.
Sometimes they need consequences to teach them a lesson.
Sometimes they need encouragement to be strong and resilient.
Sometimes they need forgiveness for making mistakes.
Sometimes they need guidance with difficult decisions.
Sometimes they need a nudge in the right direction.
Sometimes they need a pep talk when they need extra support.
Sometimes they need a sounding board when they’re trying to sort things out.
Sometimes they need help with their laundry or a good home cooked meal.
Sometimes they need unconditional love when they aren’t very lovable.
Sometimes they need company when they don’t want to be alone.
Sometimes they need us to trust the choices they make.
Sometimes they need us to let them handle things on their own.
Sometimes they need a hand to hold when they explore new opportunities.
Sometimes they need us to listen to their complaints and frustrations.
Sometimes they need us to teach them how to do new things.
Sometimes they need counsel on solving challenging problems.
Sometimes they need us to encourage them when they’re trying so hard.
And sometimes they need us to hold them when they need a good cry.
Our kids have more pressure than ever before. They can only withstand so much before they break and at times they certainly will. When their lives become too much for them to manage, when hard situations unfold, when friendships get ugly or hearts get broken, when school gets too hard and they feel like they’re failing- they need to let all their stored-up emotions spill out.
Sometimes our kids simply need a good cry.
And when it happens, they need us to be there for them.
They need us to console them and hold them and tell them how much we love them. They need us to remind them of all the good we see in them and how proud we are of all that they do. They need us to understand how hard life can be for them and simply listen to their struggles without interrupting with our own opinions or intervening on their behalf.
They don’t need our judgment and they don’t need our direction. They don’t need our emotions to spill out too. They don’t need us to save them or stifle them in this vulnerable place. They don’t need answers or helpful suggestions to resolve the circumstances they are in. They don’t need us to try to pull them out of it, push them through it, or place any more pressure than they already feel.
They don’t need us to do anything in this moment but hold them while they let it all out.
There will be time for the rest of all the things we parents do to help our kids get through this uncharted territory they are facing while growing up through these teen years.
But sometimes our kids just need a good cry and they simply need to be held.
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