How lovely it is to see a ball of energy making everyone laugh in the room after a perfectly delivered presentation. What else is new? In everyone’s eyes, she is the perfect girl. Beautiful, independent, smart, and confident. You see her in all her light and in your heart, you somewhat know you love her.
In a parallel universe, what if she isn’t everything you thought her to be?
You see her greet you with her perfect smile—offer her your coffee. She may not have the chance to make her own cup with all the errands she does for everybody.
You see her carry her heavy load of laundry—offer to carry it for her, she will never ask you to even if she wanted to.
You catch her staring blankly at her computer— ask her what you can do for her, she might be lost with all the workload she has to do.
You see her comforting a friend— listen to her because in her voice you might realize she needs comforting too.
Take time to understand her beyond what she says because often, she prefers to understand rather than be understood.
Take time to ask her how she is because she’d prefer to make sure everyone else is okay instead of worrying about herself because she knows what it feels like to hurt.
Look at her the same way she looks at you. And maybe, just maybe you’ll see signs that she is vulnerable too.
She is strong despite her weaknesses that make her want to quit every day.
She smiles despite tears she chooses to shed in private.
She lifts people up despite being weighed down by her own worries.
She assures despite her wildest fears and fragility.
She cares despite her solitude on cold and lonely nights where despair creeps next to her.
She loves despite all the inner demons that never fail to reject her.
She fights for every last ounce of strength because she knows she is needed.
Today, notice her nervous smile, her shaking hands, her cracking voice, her restless eyes, and her tensed shoulders.
Notice how she doesn't drink the coffee you gave her because she isn’t used to having someone make it for her.
Notice how she refuses to let you carry her laundry because day by day she carries it on her own, its weight has gotten lighter on her shoulders.
Notice how she answers what you can do for her, she will surely dismiss the question and tell you she had it all covered. Insist on the coffee because she always needs coffee.
Notice how she comforts her friends. Often, she says the things she also wants for herself.
What if today you learn she is not the girl you thought her to be? Would you love her fiercely as she defends her days? Would you love her with all tenacity as she does for others? Would you accept her fully as she would accept you? Would you trust her and show her she can trust you?
No, she isn’t the girl you thought she is because, today, you realized she is more beautiful than anyone can ever see.
But it’s very important not to put the focus on the fact that the teenager is upset. Instead, let them feel or know that they have a right to be upset, as that is the only way to get to a point where a solution to the problem would be welcome or even useful.
Overreacting will only make the crisis worse. So, when your teenage child is having a breakdown, it is not time to issue threats or ultimatums. Trying to offer solutions, however well-intended, will not help either.
Your child is not broken, he/she is slowly recreating who they are so that they can finally mature.
So, when you see a teen in a crisis, the first thing you should do is calm them down. Everything else comes later.