Hello Fellow Parent, and Welcome!
Two teenaged deer just bounded into my backyard, leaping for the sheer joy of it! When was the last time you bounded with joy toward anything? When was the last time you remember your kid truly, deeply, joyfully bounding forward?
It’s been a while for me. I’ve been sitting here stewing and worrying and wondering what all the troubling news news stories really mean for the students.
The headlines in the wild…
Affirmative Action is Dead!
Legacy Admission Bias is Alive!
The Rich Have Unfair Admission Advantages!
OMG enough already. We do not need all of these news blasts to tell us that money buys advantages for college admission and the rest of life.
I’m not dismissing the fallout that will surely impact all of our children. But the fallout hasn’t happened yet, and so I’m refocussing the conversation—for now, until we know more—back on those happy teenaged deer (not a scientifically sound observation, but not babies or full-grown or being chased, so I’m going with it).
The headlines I want to see…
Children are less anxious and depressed!
Teens care more about the meaning of their lives than their grades!
Our nation’s kids are experiencing sheer joy on a daily (hell, hourly) basis!
Why are teens so anxious and depressed?
Why aren’t our nation’s kids bounding joyfully, as is their right as children? Lynn Lyons, psychologist and anxiety guru (I genuflect), clarifies so much about one gargantuan reason in her podcast, High Anxiety & Good Grades: Our Toxic Achievement Culture.
Just listen. You’ll recognize yourself in it (I did), but before you beat yourself up (I did that too) about prioritizing outcomes over versions of “success” that are less externally focused, please keep listening. You’ll also recognize the noisy applause for results in our achievement culture. No wonder the message achieve, achieve, achieve has seeped into our brains, and our children’s.
What can we all do today to help our teenager?
Look, the truest, deepest felt, most repeated phrase parents utter is, “I just want my child to be happy.” In the thick of the college admissions process is exactly the right time to step back and reaffirm that value.
Let’s reward what we preach: mental health over achievement; joyful, fulfilled, meaningful bounding that will feel good over rote, meaningless grinding to achieve an outcome that will look good.
Let’s all post on social media, “My child is happy (or at least okay) today!” on a day when that’s true. You may not get as many “likes” as “My kid got into Yale!” but as a parent, which is more important to you, really and truly, forever and always? (That was rhetorical. I know everything you do is out of love for this creature who eats all your cookies and sleeps until noon whenever possible.)
Here’s what I did to help combat the insanity…
The achievement culture had dug its claws into me, too, I realized when I saw a Pew Research Study in 2019 sharing that Most U.S. Teens See Anxiety, Depression as a Major Problem Among Their Peers (and that was before the lockdown—latest CDC data reveals now it’s so much worse).
My book College Admissions Cracked: Saving Your Kid (and Yourself) From the Madness for parents was soon to be released, and I began dreaming up the Intrepid Applicant platform for students, to capture what I do one-on-one coaching teenagers as they write their college personal essay—all the empowerment, writing instruction, and self-reflective thinking—in a whimsical, accessible, but seriously effective way.
Please take advantage of all your child’s school has to offer for free, and then if your child doesn’t feel like an Intrepid Applicant just yet, come to IntrepidApplicant.com to infuse confidence and joy into an otherwise stressful part of college admissions.
An infusion of joy for you, my friend: Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth!
This month, may you sip your favorite beverage on the porch at dusk, watching the firefly show. May you raft on a gushing river if you’re the adventurous sort. Whatever makes you bound with joy this summer, do it, and encourage your teenager toward moments of sheer, boundless joy, as well, to feed the soul rather than the troubling news headlines.