I came into the room and saw my girl at the table with her books piled high, her papers spread in messy heaps, and her laptop open in front of her. She was slumped over with tired eyes and exhaling deep long sighs.
“Everything okay, honey?” I asked.
“I hate school, mom! I’m tired of studying so hard. I just hate it now. I don’t even want to go to college.”
Her words broke my heart.
These words might sound like typical teenage complaining, but it was so much more than that.
My daughter has always been engaged and interested in school and in her classes. She gets good grades. But now, what once was a positive experience that challenged her to learn and inspired her to dream, has become a gut-wrenching abyss of overwhelm.
I saw this coming.
At her age, she should not be under this much stress. None of our kids should. The high-level classes my daughter and so many teens today feel they have to take are far above what used to be standard high school curriculum. It’s simply too much. The bar is set too high and it only gets higher each year.
As a Junior, my girl has reached her limit. She’s tired, emotionally and physically, from the strenuous and never ending work she has put in. She had great plans for her future and was filled with the energy and desire to pursue those goals, but the journey has been more than she or any teenager should have to endure.
My daughter is burnt out and she’s ready to quit. And if I were her, I would feel the same way. It’s been a long, agonizing road that has led her to believe she won’t get where she wanted to go, and worse yet, she’s losing the will to try.
Her freshman year, she started off with so much excitement and had dreams of going to college to become a nurse. She was amazingly motivated and although she knew some of her classes would be difficult, she was ready to do whatever it took to make nursing school a reality. Her goals were set and she had the drive and self-motivation to accomplish them.
She was hopeful and felt confident that if she was disciplined and devoted the necessary time to her studies, she would manage through her demanding curriculum and get into a great college with all the opportunities she dreamed of pursuing.
But with each passing year, I have seen her slowly start to feel depleted, discouraged, and defeated. She’s been consumed by hours of studying and homework assignments that have taken over her life, slowly drained her spirit and stolen what little bit of childhood she has left.
Each year, she has grown weary from the fight to stay in the academic game. It’s all about GPA’s and ACTs and SATs. It’s trying against all odds to have the numbers to get admitted into those looming college doors that seem almost impossible to pry open and walk through.
Now a Junior, her college guidance counselor told her she should be studying for the ACT/SAT tests 4-6 hours a week in order to get the high scores that many colleges expect for admission. She is already maxed out, how on earth can she fit in studying for these tests?
This reality has come crashing into her dreams. What she once thought would be her future plans are now beginning to shift. She’s looking to settle into something easier and more obtainable.
High school these days can do that to a kid. It can slowly whittle away their hope, leaving them willing to accept less because it becomes impossible to do more.
As a family, we have begun to change course. We are talking with her about attending a community college and earning a two-year degree, because she has lost all interest in enduring five more years of school to get her nursing degree. This new plan is a much-needed relief for her. But honestly, at this point I worry if she will even go to college at all.
She’s lost her passion to reach for her collegiate dreams. Her enthusiasm was on fire for high school that first year, but now that fire has been slowly smothered with anxiety, stress, and exhaustion.
It’s a shame that my kid, and so many others, are already worn-out at the tender age of 16. It’s a shame that they become so tired of trying so hard at such a young age. It’s a shame that this is the landscape of high school today. It’s all just a shame for our kids who deserve to worry less and enjoy life more. It’s a shame that this is what our kids are facing during the years when they are already wrestling with who they are and where they fit in this world. It’s a shame that what was once standard- typical- average- NORMAL- is now not acceptable for so many colleges.
It’s a shame our kids have to grow up believing that if they aren’t at the top tier, they aren’t enough.
My daughter has managed more stress and pressure than any kid should, and the consequences have come.
What a shame.
But her Senior year will be better. It has to be.
I refuse to let my girl drown in the academic sinkhole when high school should be some of the best years of her life.
I refuse to let my girl think that life is too hard and exhausting and overwhelming at her age.
I refuse to allow her to believe that her worth is measured by her academic accomplishments.
I refuse to allow her to limit her interests and activities for the sake of the GPA, SAT, or ACT numbers.
I refuse to let high school steal her joy and her desire to pursue fulfilling accomplishments.
I refuse to let my kid feel completely burnt out by the time she graduates high school.
And I especially refuse to have my girl stop believing in her potential, her dreams, her future, her… self.
High school is supposed to be her launching pad into adulthood, filled with possibilities and opportunities.
How will she ever take off if she’s simply too tired, too defeated, too rundown to try?
How will she soar if her wings have grown too weak to fly?
This is a contributed post by Christine Carter. She writes at TheMomCafe.com, where she hopes to encourage mothers everywhere through her humor, inspiration, and faith. Her work is published on several various online publications and she is the author of “Help and Hope While You’re Healing: A woman’s guide toward wellness while recovering from injury, surgery, or illness.” and “Follow Jesus: A Christian Teen’s Guide to Navigating the Online World”. Both sold on Amazon.
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