This article touches on mental health in teens today…it is a high intensity topic and we’d love to hear from you in the comments…
Can we stop for a minute and realize that we are judging an entire generation on the actions of a few children?
It’s not ok.
Eating Tide Pods is a stupid choice, obviously. I think everyone can agree on that.
But do you know what else was a stupid choice?
…Burning smiley faces from hot lighters into our skin.
That’s one of the many stupid choices “my” generation made and most of us are doing alright.
Just because a few teenagers have made some questionable choices does not mean the entire generation gets to be labeled as “stupid”.
Because here’s the thing…there are way more teenagers making amazing choices, like standing up for what they believe in.
I’ve Always Taught My Children to Stand up for What They Believe, Even If They Stand Alone…
My oldest is 12. He’s in Middle School and he’s the “good kid” for the most part. He goes with the flow and usually doesn’t make a fuss about anything.
He has never participated in any spirit days because he didn’t want to be different. He would ask me “what will everyone else be doing?” before making any decisions…
To my knowledge, he’s never talked back to a teacher. He’s never disrespected an adult, besides his parents…because pre-teens can be so much fun.
So imagine my shock when he comes home Tuesday and says he was part of the “Walkout” staged by thousands across the country…
“Mom, did you hear the cops came to our school today?” he said.
“Yes, I heard all about it. Did anyone you know participate?” I ask.
“I did.” I hear him say in the proudest voice I have ever heard him speak.
“What? You walked out of your class without permission?”
“Yeah, I was the only one,” he says with a smile.
At this point, I am in a little bit of shock…
I honestly hadn’t talked to my kids about the potential of the Walkout because I never dreamed it would happen at their ages.
But, to hear him speak with such pride, made me proud.
Thinking maybe he just did it to get out of class, I ask more…
“Why did you walk out of class?” I ask.
“17 people were shot and killed when a kid took a gun to school and shot them,” he begins to tell me. “We walked out to honor those kids. The government doesn’t want to help with laws to make them safe, so we want to show them, we want to be safe.”
What. The. Hell.
Yes, son. Yes.
He goes on to tell me that during the walkout, they went onto the track, where the names of those killed were read. He said he cried, along with several of his friends.
They returned to class.
I’m still processing how I feel about this…
“I am very proud of you for standing up for what you believe in, T,” I say as I fight off the tears.
“Someone has to.”
That was his response.
My kid is growing up.
For him, this wasn’t about gun safety…
This wasn’t about who owned a gun and who didn’t…We are a gun family. We have guns in our home, and always will.
But this wasn’t about the government taking away our Second Amendment…
This was about honoring children who lost their lives.
For days now, you can’t get on social media or stand in line at a store without hearing opinions on this.
They say that the kids who walked out are being pawns to push the next agenda…
They say that guns are more important than our kids…
They say the tax dollars are being wasted with kids walking out of the school…
They’re blaming teachers. They’re blaming kids. They’re blaming everyone.
But the truth is…My truth is, I don’t have an opinion. I see all the sides and try to stay as open-minded as possible about everything I can.
Here is what I do know…
My kid wasn’t a pawn. He stood up for something that was important to him.
Our kids are important. Protecting them is important.
That doesn’t mean that un-arming America will protect or not protect them…
And tax dollars. That’s a joke right?
Do you know how much time standardized testing takes up? Too much. That’s tax dollars wasted. Not 30 minutes of kids practicing compassion on a track.
Students are so confused, and teachers are just as terrified of the situation as you or me.
It’s everyone’s fault.
IF I had to choose a side, my side would be metal detectors in the entrances of the schools.
But this isn’t a gun issue, it’s a mental health in teens issue…
It isn’t a terrorist issue, it’s a mental health issue.
It isn’t a bullying issue, it’s a mental health issue.
Anti-bullying doesn’t mean my kids have to be friends with everyone. Hear that?
They do not have to invite everyone to their birthday parties…
They do not have to sit with everyone at lunch…
They do not have to go out of their way to be nice to someone who is mean to them…
Want to know their only rule? They must be kind to everyone.
Now take a second to imagine the kid who walked by a student sitting alone without sitting down…
The next day the student who sat alone shoots the kid’s best friend…
The media is telling our kids that it’s their fault.
No. Just no.
It doesn’t matter how kind you are or how mean you are, this is a mental health issue.
The mental health of the child is the reason they bring a gun to school.
That and that alone is where the blame goes.
So what now?
I agree we need to watch for signs of mental illness. We need to see the child who is bullied. We need to punish those who bully.
But placing the responsibility to stop school shootings on our youth is far from the right stance.
So here’s where I’ll start…and where you can start, too.
I will continue to raise my tribe of 5 to be kind.
I will teach them to never bully anyone.
I will teach them to stand up for those who aren’t as strong as them.
I will teach them to love.
I will teach them to stand up for what they believe, even if they are the only one standing.
I will lead by example.
But I will never expect them to carry the burden of not being nice enough to someone who kills others.
As a mother, my son made me proud.
I wouldn’t have been the one walking out of the school. I wouldn’t have been the one leading a protest on this issue. It’s not important to me, but it was important to him and I’ll forever support that.
We pretend this is the first generation to make waves…No.
There were generations that made waves fighting for civil rights and women’s suffrage…
Let’s remember that next time we blame a whole generation for something.
This is a big, controversial issue and we understand that there are big, real feelings surrounding it. Want to talk more about mental health in teens? Let’s meet in the comments below.