By Delilah McMasters
I’m sitting at the kitchen table eating with a bunch of girls, ranging from 13 to 16, who are giggling, laughing and talking over each other. Then a voice over the group announces, “My therapist and I named my depression this week, it’s Dylan, gender neutral.” At this moment two more girls at the table shared the names of their anxiety, and I was like, “Whoa, what in the hell just happened here?” One minute we are all happy girls talking about our favorite dipping sauces and anime, next it’s a rousing game of one up on who has the worst anxiety, depression, sleep disorders and OCD.
I’m going to stop right here and say, please, don’t contact me with any hate or BS. I get it, I have kids with anxiety, we are all doing the best we can as parents. No one got a handbook at the hospital, and even with the best intentions we are still screwing our kids up.
The joke when I was a kid was we were going to need therapy as adults for the crap our parents said to us:
“Stop that crying! Want me to give you something to cry about?” Uh, is that a trick question?
“Roll your eyes one more time and I swear, I brought you into this world, and I can take you out!” We all wondered if one day our moms would snap and we would be fed to the hogs
“What are you scared of? Don’t be a scaredy-cat, get your butt on out of here!” Terrified of the dark? Public speaking? Your fifth-grade teacher? You better man up, ‘cause mama wasn’t tolerating no cry baby nonsense!
Now the joke’s on us, because all that self-awareness we went to town and got, we have passed on to our kids. Plus, we handed them access to an internet full of emotionally transparent YouTubers romanticizing every neurosis under the sun. It’s hard enough being a kid without thinking you have to have something wrong with you too to be cool.
As I sat there listening to these girls, trying not to show any emotion as they each told me their issues, I couldn’t decide if I was in awe of all the psychological lingo and how self-confident they all were in their research and therapists or if I wanted to shatter their beliefs and phones and send them all outside to do some chores.
Kids go through a lot these days, a lot more peer pressure and bullying than we ever did. They have the pressure of school, friends, social media from every angle, family, church, extracurricular activities and sports, and while some might say those are all outlets, they aren’t when combined every day. Add to this their emerging hormones and developing brains and emotions and it’s a constant stimulating overload raging in their heads.
I don’t have an answer. I don’t know what the right approach is, but I do know how to excuse myself and go to the bathroom, take a breather and come back and keep listening. The big trick, for me as a parent, and them as the kids, is to keep my mouth shut so they keep talking and we both can get through their teenage years and hopefully into adulthood where they can find some kind of footing and strength to keep them safe.
Man, that’s enough of a sentence to make you have to sit down and take a breath. It’s like a human maze game, with all the lights on and way more information than we can ever comprehend and there is a time limit and a big BIG ball aimlessly rolling around in the maze named Sam — ‘cause it’s gender neutral and I don’t want to stereotype the boogie monster.
Maybe turn off the internet every once and awhile, swear someone named Sam did something and now it doesn’t work. Buy marshmallows, the big ones, make s’mores, listen and be empathetic, and every time you think about saying something, shove one in your mouth.
It’s not easy being a kid. And it’s damn hard being a parent!
Delilah McMasters is a local resident and the mother of six. Reach her at BlessYourHeart76065@gmail.com.
Mansfield, Texas, is a booming city, nestled between Fort Worth and Dallas, but with a personality all its own. The city’s 76,247 citizens enjoy an award-winning school district, vibrant economy, historic downtown, prize-winning park system and community focus spread across 37 square miles. The Mansfield Record is dedicated to reporting city and school news, community happenings, police and fire news, business, food and restaurants, parks and recreation, library, historical archives and special events. The city’s only online newspaper launched in September 2020 and will offer introductory advertising rates for the first three months at three different rates.