Summer’s Here. It’s time to live outside of the rigid school structure. To spend unstructured time together, to enjoy one another’s company without worrying about homework or deadlines, to sleep in a little, to eat ice-cream, and to take things slower. We spend all school year running from one activity to the next, completing assignments and meeting deadlines, getting to practice on time and practicing the new skills the coach taught us last week. Use summer to catch up on time together, to create those all-important life memories, to play, to let loose, to have some fun.
Unfortunately today, too many of our children are dealing with mental health issues. Stress has become part of their daily lives. They worry about homework, school grades, assignments, sports teams, college acceptances, popularity and social acceptance, safety and security, and the list goes on. 20% of teenagers between the ages of 13 and 18 deal with serious mental illness in the United States. In certain areas of this country, more teens die from suicide than car accidents each year. It’s time to reconsider what’s important in our lives. Do we really care that our child gets into an Ivy League School? Get’s a 4.6 GPA? Is the starting pitcher on the Varsity Team? Wouldn’t we rather have well rounded, happy children who bring home B’s, have lots of friends, and don’t lie awake all night worrying about showing up at the next dance with the most popular boy?
Role modeling and unconditional love and support go a long way to providing a structure in which children thrive. If they see their parents stopping to smell the roses, taking time out to spend with their loved ones and close friends, they will be encouraged to do the same. When a child knows that he has unconditional love and support at home, regardless of whether or not he is the first violinist in the honors orchestra – he develops a sense of self-esteem. These kids may still face challenges, will definitely encounter difficult situations, but will have some tools to help them cope.
Sue Penn, is a contributing writer to Kiddish magazine.