We have created a fake world presenting only the best side of our families and friends and rarely sharing pain or struggle.
We created it in social media, in-person, and at social events.
I’m not proposing we go all newspaperish by being negative and presenting only bad news. But it’s time to strike a balance.
We are a society obsessed with accomplishments
We are quick to pass judgment on those whose children are not currently succeeding by our standards. And our current fast-paced society breeds anxiety, depression, and dysfunction.
We are a sharing society. Only we choose to share only that which is the prettiest.
Everyone wants to share that bragging moment. Everyone wants to look good. But by hiding struggle, we create a facade that has made those who are struggling feel isolated and alone. And everyone feels like that at some point.
To our friends who are suffering as well as our young people, this presents an inaccurate picture. Those who are hurting see this and get the message that no one wants to hear them because what they have to say is too “unpleasant”.
So if you are grieving the loss of a relative or friend, talk about it. If someone in your family is suffering addiction or mental illness or dies by suicide, talk about it.
So many families brush all this under a rug and never speak of it which sends a message of shame and that person is effectively “erased.”
And the side effects?
Increase in suicide and overdoses which are at epidemic levels.
As adults, we have learned there is a lot that goes on behind closed doors. Our kids don’t know or see that yet.
While we can’t slow down society, we can make time if we really want to and present a more accurate picture by sharing struggles as well as accomplishments. With our kids and with others. We do learn from each other if we talk and find comfort in it as well.
We can refuse to carry on the tradition of holding our kids hostage to standards that are simply too high. Most of them are only for the sake of our own pride and self-worth anyway.
People will always want to feel proud of their kids. That’s natural. We’ve just gotten out of hand and wildly competitive about it with the advent of turbocharged PTAs, travel teams and social media.
When we create this fake facade, even those who are part of the family feel they can’t live up to the fantasy that is created. They start to feel shame and that leads to problems.
Let your kids know it’s OK to talk about unpleasant subjects
We should invite them to do that no matter how uncomfortable it is for us. We’re just too busy. But we need to be open and listen even in situations where we are not sure what to do. Avoid avoidance.
We all want to fix things when sometimes all we need to do is shut up and listen without judgment.
We can encourage our kids to do their own problem solving by asking questions instead of trying to do things for them because it’s faster. Everyone is in fear of failure yet that’s where we learn the most. Failure with small price tags is a wonderful teaching tool.
Families everywhere are lumpy, with dysfunctional pieces and parts
Perfection is not.
Let’s start by not perpetuating impossible standards that appear to be the norm. By having conversations, not lectures. Because guess what? They do want to talk as long as you will listen without judgment.