A Reminder from my Teenage Self [Guest Post]

Jennifer Andersen lives outside of Boston MA, with her husband and two children.  She is passionate about honestly sharing the everyday struggles of parenting and shares her writings at www.ponderingjane.com, Honest Musing on Family Living.

I recently found a journal from my adolescent years.  My parents and I struggled greatly during my teenage years and we lacked communication skills.  This caused significant conflict and hurt.  The journal itself chronicled the details and emotion of the misunderstandings between my parents and me.  What struck me the most though, was what I had written in the margins.  Phrases like “ remember how real this is” and  “this is not insignificant or trivial”.

Reading the journal easily brought me back to the enormity of that tumultuous time.  The fact that most teenagers around me were experiencing similar situations was irrelevant to me, as it should have been.  Even now when I witness a teenager’s emotions dismissed with an eye roll by a parent or other adult, I find myself tense and am quickly transported back to that time that was so difficult, and very real, for me.

My parent’s generation, were the children of the children of The Great Depression.  As my therapist pointed out, they recognized that there was an inner life (a huge step from their parents generation) but didn’t know what to do with that information.
Basic needs must always be met first, and my grandparents were still very much focused on ensuring this for their children.  They were not intentionally trivializing the serious issues that my parents faced as teenagers.  They didn’t have the luxury of considering the healthy emotional development of their children, given that they were so concerned (and for good reason) about having enough food for their family.

This generation of parents that includes me however, is in a unique set of circumstances.  We are the first generation who is far enough removed from the Great Depression, not to be directly impacted by it, and while our countries financial state may hang in the balance, we are still among the haves as a nation.  This has freed up energy previously used to determine how to most efficiently utilize rations, to investigate things once thought frivolous, such as healthy emotional development of our children.

Every generation of parents try to do better than their own.  I guess the hope is that one day we will have reached a point where we are able to consistently handle situations in the manner most appropriate and constructive for our children.

I now understand that those lines from my journal, written so emotionally more than twenty years ago, are a blessing for me to hand down to the next generation of my family.  With all of the parenting mistakes that I make on an hourly basis, those words that formed me are ever present.  I try desperately to keep in the forefront of my mind that whatever the issue my child is facing is real, relevant and significant.  I pray that I can keep these concepts in their proper place as my children enter the ages of different, and more consequential challenges.

Jennifer Andersen lives outside of Boston MA, with her husband and two children.  She is passionate about honestly sharing the everyday struggles of parenting and shares her writings at www.ponderingjane.com, Honest Musing on Family Living.

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