Parents, we need to have a chat.
*pauses to allow parents to grab coffee and gather ’round*
Can we please talk about the word, “commitment”?
Or, shall I say, the overuse of the word “commitment” when we are talking to our teens about their extracurricular activities?
(My apologies to the parents who thought I was about to rant about dating. We’ll get to that in a minute, though.)
Stay with me.
I’ve spent the last few days fighting for Fruit Loop #1’s right to have a school life balance.
Without going into too many details, his schedule for one of his beloved extracurricular activities has become next level insane.
To the point that he and his fellow students have been expected to devote upwards of 20-25 hours A WEEK to a high school activity.
That’s a part time job.
On top of a full time job doing the business of being a 15 year old sophomore.
Oh, and on top of having a life as a teen.
Throughout this battle, the teacher in charge has thrown around the word “commitment.” A lot.
“If you can’t commit, you probably shouldn’t be here.”
“I expect 110% commitment, no excuses.”
“Only those who can fully commit to this activity will succeed.”
Oh, and my personal favorite, “If you can’t commit, you can quit.”
And so on and so forth.
Here’s my rub: since when is knowing your limits a sign of weakness?
If a teen is saying to you out loud, “I feel stressed” and our response is “well, you certainly aren’t committed enough,” how is that helping a teen learn to set boundaries?
If your teen is anxious and suffering insomnia, how saying “well, if you only applied yourself a bit more, things would be better,” going to help them manage the physical symptoms of stress?
We spend our days shuttling our kids from activity to activity, throwing chicken nuggets over our shoulders as we wait at stop lights and check emails only to find out that soccer practice has been moved to Friday night and now we have five places to be instead of six.
We spend our nights yelling at our teens that they need to go to bed because it’s 11p and they aren’t finished their homework yet.
We, as a collective group of parents, have COMMITTED to the notion that stress and anxiety are okay for our teens.
And we let our teachers and coaches continue to question their level of commitment to a project or an activity, even when our teens are crying uncle.
AP classes are no joke.
Learning how to date a new partner is stressful stuff (remember your first awkward dates?).
Learning to drive.
Looking at colleges.
The prospect of moving away from home in a few years.
Just the business of being 15, with your body changing and hormones flowing, is the stuff of nightmares (did you like being the acne kid in high school??).
Our kids are stressed enough without us having to remind them that they are falling short when they are exhausted.
Parents, CTFD with the word “commitment.”
Instead, ask your kid what brings them joy.
Ask them what they want to do with their lives, don’t TELL them they have to commit their full souls to a sport or theater production.
And, when you hear a teacher question your kid when he says he’s stressed, SPEAK UP.
Be the squeaky wheel.
Because those of us who have been yelling for a really long time are exhausted.
I, for one, am committed to making sure my teens and their fellow students live their best lives.
Even if it means being “that” parent.
So, enough with the word “commitment,” OKAY?
I’m glad we had this talk.
*sips coffee, raises eyebrow, throw moms shade*