The Kids Are Not All Okay; Maybe It’s Time to Let Them Grieve

I was on Facebook last night and I saw a parent post about teenagers not doing too well all over the US. One of the commenters said that she led her children by her positive example. She thought that perhaps her attitude explained why her kids have adjusted so well to the current situation.

She went on to say that it’s our (parents’) response that matters and that we should “just be positive.” Our kids will follow suit. She went on to say that her family has been through a tough diagnosis, the family member survived and they all were all stronger for the experience.

The kids are not all okay-let them grieve. (via Joy Ximenez)

I felt guilty that I wasn’t being more positive about all this

I hate the word…but her statement “triggered” me and I had to figure out why. Why would hope and positivity bother me? At first I thought that maybe I was bothered because I felt a personal affront. I felt like she was saying that those who weren’t being positive were doing this whole thing wrong or somehow failing their children. Perhaps, it was because of my attitude that my child was failing or unmotivated.

Then I realized that she was me last March when my then junior’s Disneyland trip was cancelled. There I was saying it’s ok…think positive…you’ll go back to school in the fall. At least this wasn’t your senior year.

And, I was her when summer band camp was cancelled and my newly-named senior section leader wanted to quit band, something he LOVED. I told him…don’t quit, maybe there will be a field show eventually. Then field show practice, still with no music, was stopped in late fall so the kids were no longer able to practice steps on the field even socially-distanced.

I stayed positive. I said well maybe when you go back to school at the beginning of the year, it will resume. There is still hope for graduation. Now it’s February, almost March again and the chance of any kind of in-person graduation looks bleak. Band for the musicians will not happen.

I decided to stop the positive spin and listen to my son

That’s when I decided to stop putting my positive spin on his life…and actually LISTEN to him.

Last week he said, “Mom. There’s no hope of getting anything back. I’m getting tired of the carrot being dangled in front of me and pulled away.” I heard him…but didn’t quite “GET it” yet.

Then last night he said,

Mom, I’ve been to graduations for my school because of band so I know what they are suppose to look like. I’ve been to my cousin’s graduation and WE dreamed of what mine would be. I spent two years of my summer in summer school. I’d rather keep the dream of my graduation in my head of what should’ve been, then have to participate and be ruined by whatever crap they try to pull off and have that forever be my memory.

It was then that I realized why that comment had “triggered” me.

I too have been through a grim diagnosis many years ago. And, sometimes…no matter how much hope you have, no matter how hard you pray. Sometimes it’s just a no, a death…no hope left.

But what’s left is grief and the hard work of grieving. I found that out as a 25-year-old losing a child…I could not hope and grieve at the same time. Those two emotions counteracted each other, at least for me. One could not be fully done, while the other was still happening.

Now is the season for grieving what we’ve lost

So now is the season for grieving what is lost…with true grieving comes acceptance; acceptance of what is, of the hard reality. It’s time folks…let these kids grieve this. The vast majority will move past it, bravely and perhaps better for it. But all of this is scary.

We parents wonder will they make it if their hope in something is gone? They will because they will learn that in life, sometimes we hope and put our all into something and despite all of our efforts, things just don’t go our way. It doesn’t work out.

It doesn’t mean that that time was wasted. That we failed. Learning to give something up that’s run its course, whether it’s something like this school stuff, losing a business or even life, is quite valuable too.

So today…we grieve our ideas of this school year of 2021. We will stop chasing the carrot and plan to hold our own graduation, WITH A DIPLOMA.

A new hope, a dream replaced with reality. He is my rainbow baby after all.

More to Read:

What Students Need Their Parents to Understand About Life During Covid

Joy Ximenez is a wife a mom to three children. One is a grown but hasn’t quite flown millennial and two teen Gen X’s. Joy is a California based wedding and lifestyle photographer. She established her company A Moment of Joy Photography company over twenty years ago. Lover of Jesus, chai lattes, photographing squished up laughing faces and learning how to do life better a little more everyday.

About Grown and Flown

Mary Dell Harrington and Lisa (Endlich) Heffernan are the co-founders of Grown and Flown the #1 site for parents of teens, college students and young adults, reaching millions of parents every month. They are writers (Lisa is a New York Times bestselling author), moms, wives and friends. They started the Grown and Flown Parents Facebook Group and are co-authors of Grown and Flown: How to Support Your Teen, Stay Close as a Family, and Raise Independent Adults (Flatiron Books) now in paperback.

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