Dear mom and dad,
I know this has already been a really hard and emotional year with me being a senior. A lot of things have been going on with me during this last year of high school and it’s really fun and exciting, but super stressful too. I have so much on my mind and I always feel like there’s a lot going on, so I just wanted to write out some things you could do that would really, really help me get through my senior year of high school.
I hope you’ll understand a little bit more about why I act the way I do and what’s going on inside of me because at times I can’t explain myself clearly or express my feelings well.
I know you love me so much and you’re doing your best to be great parents. You’ve helped me in so many ways and I really appreciate it. I may not show it all the time, but I’m grateful for you. I know you’ve sacrificed a lot with all you’ve done to raise me.
I’m trying to be completely honest so please don’t be mad at me when you read this. I know you’re doing the best you can and I really do appreciate it. It’s not like anything is your fault. We are all learning as we go while I’m growing up. But I’ve thought about some ways you can really make a difference in my life this last year of me being home, so here they are.
I need you to ease up and give me more space to decompress and have fun.
I know you mean well, and you want me to do so many things to prepare for my post-graduation plans while still trying to accomplish all the day-to-day stuff I have to get done. And sometimes I really need you to get on me like when I’m forgetting things because I’m overwhelmed or distracted. And I really do appreciate your guidance and direction because sometimes I feel completely lost with it all.
But there are other times I need you to be patient with me and flexible too.
Maybe back off when you can tell I’m already stressed out or tired and wait for a better time to give me more reminders and instructions. All these tasks are hard and exhausting, and honestly sometimes scary for me to do. I get emotional and often doubt myself and my ability to do much of anything. I feel like I can’t handle all the pressure to work on my academics and college applications, while I’m also really busy with my sports and all my other activities, not to mention my part-time job that leaves me little room for having any fun at all.
I’m stressed out a lot of the time and I don’t think you realize that I need more space in my life without any responsibilities to worry about. Sometimes I just need to take a break from it all and have fun with my friends because I feel like all I do is work to get things done. Remember I’m still a kid even though the world is telling me I’m an adult just because I turned 18. I don’t feel any older and there are times I just want to push it all away and goof off or even do nothing at all.
I need you to be patient and forgiving when I’m in a bad mood.
I know I can be really crabby and even rude sometimes and I’m really sorry about that. I can get mad easily with you and I think it’s just because I can. You see, I have to be on my best behavior all day with school and work and my extra-curricular activities, and sometimes I’ve simply run out of my positivity. You guys are the only people I’m comfortable being grumpy with, because I know you’ll still love me and I just need to let down my guard and be real.
I also know I can push you away sometimes and tell you to leave me alone if you try to talk to me or want to spend time with me. When I do this, it’s usually because I feel a little suffocated by your attention. It’s not that I don’t secretly love it when you show your love and want to be with me, it’s just that sometimes I’m not in the mood for any of it and just want to be with my friends or zone out and watch tv, or play video games, or be on my phone- alone.
Don’t take it personally, okay?
And most of all, don’t get mad at me for just needing some time to myself or with my friends. Please understand how important both are to me, and sometimes they are more important than anything else, including you, mom and dad.
Also, there are times when I honestly feel like I am going to either cry or explode because my feelings are so overwhelming. I don’t even know why, but when I’m really emotional, it comes out in all kinds of ways. If I’m angry or defensive or act irritated or dismissive, it’s usually because I’m a mess inside. If you could, please forgive me and try to be understanding. You might even ask me how I’m feeling although I can’t promise I’ll tell you. But keep asking because eventually your compassion and grace will make me feel safe enough to spill it all out.
I need you to help me out a little bit when I can’t keep up with everything.
I might not ask for your help because I’m either stubborn or prideful, or I’m just too busy to even think to ask. But when you do a load of my laundry or pack my lunch for me, it really means a lot. I know I’m going to be on my own soon, and you want me to practice being independent so I can be successful when I leave.
But these days, I don’t feel like I can do everything all the time.
So, when you offer to clean my room or do my dishes, or when you tell me I’m off the hook for chores on my busy days- it really helps relieve my stress. I could also use your help with all the complicated tasks that are timely and if you offer to walk through some of those things with me, I’d really appreciate it. When you support me with all these things, it shows me that you see how much I’m trying to do and you want to be there for me through it all. A lot of it is exhausting and overwhelming so offering your help is exactly what I need from you.
I need you to listen when I’m trying to tell you how I’m feeling.
Sometimes I feel like you don’t listen to me when I’m trying to express my feelings. It seems like you either want to stay focused on whatever we’re doing or you’re too busy and distracted to really pay attention. I mean, I get it because I know you have a lot to do and you also want me to get a lot done.
But try to understand and meet me exactly where I am.
Please don’t always tell me I’ll be okay or that I’m strong and capable of handling everything. That makes me feel dismissed and that my feelings aren’t legit and honestly, there are times I do NOT feel that way at all and need you to get that.
I can be sad about my high school years coming to an end and how much I’m going to miss it all and my friends. I can feel completely overwhelmed and scared about planning my future and all that entails. I can also be stressed and frustrated with the non-stop work I have to do and all of those feelings can sometimes be too much for me to process on my own. I could really use some encouragement and validation because my emotions are out of control and I don’t know what to do with them.
I know I can push you away, too.
But that doesn’t mean I want you to stop trying to be there for me and ask me how I’m doing. If I’m short with you or dismissive, it honestly might mean I’m mad that you didn’t listen and validate my feelings. Pay attention to me when I’m talking because I’ll give you clues that I’m not okay if I can’t outright say it to your face. And when you are gentle and compassionate and show you really care, it means so much to me. If you say you’re here for me and can tell I might be struggling, I’ll probably spill my guts out and cry because now more than ever I need to let it all out from time to time.
I need you to allow me to be more independent because I have to practice before I go.
Even though I still feel like a kid, I’m trying to do a lot of things on my own like make my schedule and do different things my way instead of yours. I know you think your way is the best way, but sometimes I want to try and do it my way and see if that works out for me too.
I might not always want to do things the way you want me to.
But you have to trust that I can and will get things done and that I am capable of doing things on my own. I need you to believe in me and not doubt me so much because that makes me feel like I’ll never get it right on my own.
I know I still need a lot of your help with things and your reminders can be good for me like I said before. But at some point, I’ll have to live without you, and as scary as that all seems, I am going to try and learn what I can do on my own. It’s confusing because sometimes I really need you but other times, I just want to do things without you.
I might not do it all well and sometimes I might even fail, but that’s how I’ll learn.
So maybe when you see me trying to do something different or I’m veering from your instructions, ask me if I need your help, instead of telling me what to do. I might say I’m gonna do things my way and I want you to be happy and supportive, not doubtful and uncertain. I know you’re used to doing everything as a parent and this change can be hard for you but remember I’m trying to grow up and you’ll have to start letting go and I’ll have to start letting go of you too.
And please keep showing up for me.
When you show up at my sports competitions or performances, or you come to my awards banquets and ceremonies and all my extra-curricular activities, it means more than you know. I don’t say thanks enough and I might even shrug it all off, but seeing you there cheering me on makes me feel loved and important and I can tell that you’re proud.
All these senior events are especially hard and emotional for me this year.
So please keep coming because I need your support now more than ever. It’s hard to explain, but just having you there gives me the strength and courage I need. And it also makes all these experiences even more special when I get to have my parents with me.
Please tell me you believe in me and you’ll support me no matter what happens.
I have no idea if I’ll be successful or not with whatever plans I make after I graduate. This makes me scared and unsure, anxious and worried I might totally blow this or not do well. I’m afraid of failing you and letting you down.
I may not show it and I might not say it, but pleasing you often stresses me out.
You might say you think I’ll do great or I’ll succeed but I honestly need to hear that you’re already proud of me and you’ll love me no matter what happens. I want to know that you think I have strengths and gifts and potential to be the best I can be but if I make mistakes or choose the wrong path, you’ll still see those good things in me.
I guess what I’m saying is that I have no idea what is going to happen in the next chapter of my life and if at least I know my parents will be with me through it all, I might not be as scared to go out on my own. I want to be independent and successful more than anything, but I feel like it’s a tall order for a kid my age.
So, will you still love me if I fail? I need to know that you will.
I just hope I can keep making you proud with all these big decisions that are coming up this year. I’d love to know that you have a lot of confidence in me because if I know that, then I think I’ll start believing in myself too. When I feel loved and seen, I grow more self-assured about my potential. If I know that you will always believe in me and be here for me, then, maybe, just maybe, I’ll think I can do just about anything.
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