Raising a Mentally Strong Teen.

So the truth is.  I am pissed off as hell right now.  Really. Bullying takes many forms.

Bullying can be defined as: prone to or characterized by overbearing mistreatment and domination of others. Source.

But what about peer pressure??  I have always felt peer pressure was actually a form of covert bullying.  That the person or person’s trying to sway you into their way of thinking were actually bullies.  Here is that definition:  a feeling that one must do the same things as other people of one’s age and social group in order to be liked or respected by them.  Source.

Well.  Isn’t that interesting?

I won’t come over to your house unless you do this.  I won’t be your friend if you don’t see things my way.  I can’t hang out with you because you are different.  Yup.  And I am not talking about my teen now, but here’s the thing.  If we don’t raise mentally strong teens who start to recognize this and stand up for themselves, they become adults who do this as well.

So what does a mentally strong teen do differently?

  1. They have been taught that this situation, no matter how difficult it seems, is temporary.  I am preparing for another month in my monthly online magazine subscription, << which by the way, can help you with your teen as well, and I am using this quote to get us all thinking.   This has not come to stay, it has come to pass.  ~Les Brown~     Last night, I used the techniques that come easy to me now, in helping my daughter heal from something that shouldn’t be the case, yet it still is.  A case where she was made to feel unworthy of being given a ride home because somehow she was less popular…or important, to a neighborhood girl who also changed her mind and did not show up to something my daughter invited her to last year.  This situation is temporary, but I have to give my daughter the tools to process that.
  2. The teen has been taught that not all situations have anything to do with them, but in reality, it has more to do with the person who is using peer pressure.    Peer pressure means that whoever is using it, feels like they have to use that method in order to keep friends.  Why?  Here are a few possible reasons: they don’t have a good home life, they feel unworthy themselves, their parents are hard on them and pressure them to “fit in” and perhaps be popular…and the list goes on.  Whatever it is that makes them feel like they have to surround themselves with only people who agree with them, well, that’s a mentally weak person’s view…and the strong see through that.
  3. They have been taught a set of core values, and NO amount of bullying or peer pressure will make them break those values.    Integrity is something that is hard to come by in some folks.  They probably weren’t raised that way.  I was shocked though, to find out about a good girl, a girl I know was raised a certain way, but fell in with others because she wanted to be liked.  She was my daughter’s friend last year, but then started drifting away and was bragging about shop lifting because these girls dared her to do it.  The next thing my daughter tells me is that this girl and the 2 others started bragging about the drug dealer at school hooking them up.  I was like what??  Can’t you talk to her about her values and how sacrificing them to be “popular” is going to cause lasting harm on her health?  Even if your teen doesn’t talk to you about things, have that courageous conversation if their social media photos start to disturb you.  And yes.  Follow all their accounts right now…for as long as they live under your roof.  Don’t be afraid to ask them to show you what is going on and who is that in the photo.  For people my age raising teens, we didn’t have this type of extra pressure and it’s important to factor it into our parenting.
  4. The mentally strong teen has been taught how to re-frame negative thoughts.    They do not stay in a state of overwhelm because they have been taught how to “chunk” things for the better.  The pessimistic friend or “influence” in your child’s life can help them have a better dialogue.  Example: I don’t fit in anywhere.  Re-frame: I haven’t met the right group of friends yet.  Example: Leave such and such out of your invites to your house.  They are weird.  Re-frame: I invited them already because they are quiet and I thought it might be a better chance to get to know them.  So not only are they taught to re-frame inner thinking, but they are taught how to handle the friend who pressures others to leave people out.
  5. They know they can talk openly to their parents.  This one is hard, yes, and I am even going to type this one up…but, I just have to say this.  My daughter came home this summer and told me one of her friends was on house arrest her entire senior year for coming clean to her mom about…not waiting until marriage to have “relations” with her boyfriend.  And he dumped her.  So in a moment of feeling guilty, the girl turned to her mom for support and perhaps even an almost adult conversation (at 17, I know they are still our babies, but it’s time to be realistic), and was completely shut away like Rapunzel.  Even if we don’t want our kids to possibly do the same dumb things we have done, or dumb things we never did…but thought about, we still have to be willing to listen to them.  It helps makes them mentally strong for the times we can’t be there, or Heaven forbid, we are no longer there.  The courageous conversation builds strength and it can be a time to move forward.  It doesn’t mean you are okay with what they did, it just means you love them enough to forgive them, not the act itself, but them and you are willing to move forward.

After this week of the ups and downs, the “team” my daughter is on turning into less of a “team” and more of a “who is popular” match, and other things, I realize that raising a mentally strong teen in the technological age might be something that no one my age was ever prepared for.  I don’t think we were prepared for secret direct messages that could turn ugly like “hey, send me nudes?”…or “Eww.  You look fat and gross in that photo…anonymous user”  Or hashtag Everyoneontheteamwasinvited #exceptyou and here’s the photo of it.  Hey are you going to the party?  No.  I wasn’t invited EXCEPT everyone talked about it in front of me or around me.  << Let’s not do this.  Let’s just not.  And the only way to find out if it’s happening to your teen is to start these conversations.  Be open.  Be aware.

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