By Darcy McConnell, M.Ed., LADC, LPC
The month of October has been a busy month at EFC. School started in August and some were off to college while others were another year closer to high school graduation. Everyone seemed to settle in fine; some were attending football games while others were living on their own for the first time. After a little while came the first round of arrests for smoking marijuana in the bathroom or drinking at the games. Concerned parents perused report cards. This influx of clients has always been interesting to me because it seems very crisis driven and often chaotic.
I remember growing up through high school and the first years of college. These were hard, stressful times. As humans, we all make mistakes. We are fortunate that there is room for mistakes at that young age. We all understand that not a single person is perfect and that people are going to make mistakes. I wonder why it is then that we are so hard on them when they do make mistakes. Now, I’m not in any way dismissing bad behavior and I love consequences, but the lesson is “learning from one’s mistakes and behaving differently”. If someone trips up along the way, I think we must first ask ourselves “why?”. This goes for the one behaving badly also. Growing up is so much about developing identity and understanding one’s self. If we can understand ourselves well enough to be aware and cautious of not repeating the behavior in the future, then we change and grow.
I enjoy working with clients who return to therapy after beginning their first year of college because it is often not everything that they thought it would be and, all of a sudden, they’re miserably unhappy. I remember that transition myself and I remember it being characterized by a lack of self-confidence and an extreme amount of anxiety about the future. For the first time in life, we move out from our parents’ homes and in with friends or even sometimes strangers. There is an incredible amount of change and freedom gained in this move.
Unfortunately, change for most humans is not easy and is actually uncomfortable simply because it is totally different. Individuals go through so many emotions during this time and may even question whether they really know what they want or why they feel the way a particular way.
I remember being young and so focused on moving out so that my parents would not be as involved in all the things going on in my life. I also remember getting frustrated with professors who did not even care to know my name. It was frustrating, too, to find friends who were more interested in other things that absolutely did not matter than being good friends and relationships that simply did not work out. Then I remember being sad, hurt, frustrated and confused. The worst part was that, at the end of a really bad day, my overinvolved parents were not sitting in the living room asking me about what was going on in every aspect of my life. I can still remember realizing how important they were and how I missed them and their advice so much. Parents, please do not ever think that your children do not need your support; they do. Tell them that you love them and that they are capable of anything.
The extreme amount of freedom mentioned above and the lack of structure in the collegiate environment can also factor into the stress equation for young people. Many students struggle with not having assigned studies versus the independent notes with four scheduled tests or research papers for grades format. Procrastination seems to bear its ugly head, especially when there are so many parties and new people to meet. College rarely comes with a handbook for success. Classes sometimes are a wash and have to be dropped. Please do not forget or dismiss the guilt and feelings of disappointment that are always a part of these situations and remember, life is about learning from our experiences. Unfortunately, mistakes happen and we don’t always know the right thing to do the first time. Parents, please support your children even when they do not do what you think they should have done.
Healthy support during these times is the very best thing you can do for your children and your friends. The most important factor is that people learn and do things differently, whether we’re talking something as simple as studying or something more complicated like relationships. People need the encouragement and the freedom to understand what has happened from an honest point of view and to acknowledge the problem in order to prevent its repetition.
Parents, if you do not know what to do when your child is in distress, it’s okay. There are professionals to consult when you feel the need. Support your kids but never do what they can do themselves. Be firm, be real and reinforce what you know that they are capable of, not what you fear they are not. This will foster positive thinking, which, when paired with good problem solving skills, is an amazing combination. Dealing with these situations does not come with a handbook, and sometimes people get it wrong. It’s all right; everybody makes mistakes and this is how and why people change and grow.
Darcy McConnell is a therapist at Edmond Family Counseling, Inc. and can be reached at 341-3554.
Edmond Family Counseling Articles
Articles by the Counselors at Edmond Family Counseling
Parent peer pressure Mild-Depression 5 Love Languages brain Why did the system fail Teen Drug Use privilege responsibility Great Depression Links between unemployment and depression Mental Health Fear Sheila Stinnett Political Correctness Lee Daniel Kravetz Gun violence and mental health Marriage counseling Seniors Disciplining Teens Help for panic and anxiety Procrastination Setting Boundaries for Your Teen Drinking in high school How long should counseling take Teens Use of Technology Legalization of Marijuana The Martian Movie Exercise treatment for depression Conflict What to do when you are laid off Ben Carson Entitlement Syndrome Nutrition and stress goals Adult Children Addiction Mayme White Miller Anxiety Oklahoma drug use Personality Test 710 Limitations of counseling Michael Jackson Parenting through Divorce self-sabotage Positive Thinking Grandparent Initiative parenting college age kids Culture list Presidential debate Butane Honey Oil Bullying Divorce AARP Heroin Crisis Boundaries Aggregated News for Teens Positive Reinforcement Dr. Rhonda Patrick Movies for Teens Medical Use of Marijuana in Oklahoma Depression Substance Abuse Holidays Bias and memory Child Development Speaker Listener Technique Prom safety The Amazing Race Detox Diet HK pen 13 Reasons Why NOT Drug Abuse Snapchat Holiday stress fads Young Adults National Drug Threat Assessment Summary Teenage Boys Setting Boundaries with Adult Children Role Models Marriage Bias Instagram Andy Weir Gender Roles College Age Children Chad McCoy Grandparenting College Transitions Fidget Spinners Unemployment and depression Divorce with minor children Peers Hanna Baker Heroin in the Suburbs How common are panic attacks Quinton Ellis Wax Opiods DIY Marriage counseling Jay Asher Sexual Abuse Microagression Parenting and Cell Phones Emotional Development When Teens Should Get a Cell Phone Belinda Crosier Learning Funding Golden Child Isolation in teens Retirement Therapy Edmond Stress How prevalent is domestic violence Scapegoating Will counseling work quickly Divorce School Audrey Woods Bong Confidentiality What Really Matters Oklahoma Department of Human Services Jackie Shaw Trauma Changing Problem Behavior Technology Brain Research Teen Suicide History Teens and Smartphones HB 2249 Back to School Parenting Panic School Edmond drug use Parenting Teenagers Butane Hask Oil Oklahoma Statute on Marijuana GirlStrong Childhood depression Summer Plans for Teens Family Systems Theory Waxing Communicating with your child Is therapy forever Time Management Misconceptions of Smoking Marijuana THE KETOGENIC DIET Disability Social anxiety Support Group diet Dr. Ben Carson Depression and social media bucket list Children Newsletter spring ADA Organization Captain of Your Ship New year’s resolution Helen Keller Teens and Time Management Disasters Strong Willed Child Cell Phones How to detect signs of depression Micro-aggression Happiness Character Development Choices Freshman Year School Anxiety What Matters Most Program Summer Suicide Al McCormick Prevention Family Theory Grandparents as parents Death Developmentally appropriate strategies for grief counseling Domestic violence resources Parenting with purpose Consequences Political bias gadgets Siblings in Conflict The Martian Book Co-Parenting Class Sanjay Gupta Americans with Disabilities Act Community Suicide Prevention Programs Joshua and Rebecca Weigel Learning Disabilites Panic Disorder Family Roles Self-Esteem How to talk to your kids about terrorism Elizabeth Loftus THE PALEO DIET Risk taking Teen Jobs Apps for Teens Teenage perception of drug use Drug Use What is domestic violence Early Treatment of Depression Alcohol Dating Suicide Prevention for Teens Negative Thinking Relationships United States Drug Enforcement Agency Marijuana Prom guidelines for teens World Health Organization Grounded Hope Normalcy Self Image How to manage anxiety Food Allergies How to control panic attacks Girl Strong Teen Parenting Positive Illusions Spanking personal growth MEDITERRANEAN DIET Child Abuse Donald Miller College Summer time parenting Tumblr Impact of Suicide ADHD Reading Unemployment Edmond Municipal Court Co-Parenting Teen Safety James Dobson Managing substance abuse Communication techniques for couples Working Parents Emotions Underage Drinking Twitter Millenials Edmond Family Counseling Affluenza How to recognize domestic violence College Campus Enabling Adult Children Annie Sullivan Panic attacks How many sessions do I need The Miracle Worker How do children process trauma Drugs Teenagers Twenty Somethings Ridley Scott Suicide Prevention Recommendations Eating Disorder Prescription Drugs Darcy McConnell Discipline Independent Living Tetra-Amelia Syndrome Teens and cell phones Anger John Goetz Schedule 1 Drug Goal Setting Edmond Character Council The Golden Years Supersurvivors Terrorism and children Retirement Planning Call of Duty Chores for Teens Facebook Communicating with your teen 13 Reasons Why Feldman and Kravetz Decision-Making Amanda Percival Teenage Development The Butterfly Circus high school Codependency Parkland Shooter Prom non-verbal communication Social Media Self Investment Communication David Feldman