Raising teenagers is hard. We all remember the grief we gave our parents when we were teens: believing intrinsically that we weren’t nearly as dreadful as society made us out to be. However as you raise your children now – during the information age, the era of social media, and a post-pandemic world trying to rebuild itself… it’s just difficult right now to be parents.
Of course, you would do anything to help your teenager to thrive amidst the chaos.
So you look into sports…. acting classes… therapy… you ban TikTok after 8pm, monitor their Instagram account, or turn the television off at midnight in the hopes that providing structure and boundaries will help them to stay inside the lines.
But what if those boundaries are actually fueling the fire?
What if encouraging creative expression, free speech, and unapologetic emotions are actually part of the process to fostering the development of a proud, resilient and confident young person?
The past few weeks, I’ve explored the role that music and songwriting can play when it comes to connection and communication, as well as ensuring one’s cultural identity remains in tact [which is a key component to providing a solid foundation to one’s educational journey – especially in their early life], but today I want to focus on the importance of supporting your teenagers confidence, self esteem, and self-control through song.
You see: a song can mean so much.
For you, it might have been Pat Benetar’s “Hit Me with Your Best Shot”, or Alice Cooper’s “Poison”. Every time you hear it on the radio: you can’t help but stand a little straighter, walk a little taller, and speak with a swag you might not usually use.
For you, listening to “Respect” by Aretha Franklin might have historically made you feel more determined, inspired, motivated… Lady Gaga might arouse inspiration or happiness…. listening to Miley Cyrus or Imagine Dragons might bring up feelings of anger, joy, hurt or self worth….
The songs we listen to make up the literal soundtrack to our lives.
And that can be a beautiful thing…. until we begin to realize that the soundtrack we’ve been listening to all these years feature other people’s shit. We regularly sang the story of someone else. We reveled in their self doubt, or self love… we commiserated in their bad days, and accepted their stories as our own. We adopted someone else’s life story under the guise that since we could relate somewhat: it was still an act of empowerment to adopt someone else’s words.
But what about OUR words? What about understanding ourselves on a deep level? Expressing those parts of ourselves and having our peers, friends, family and community not only listen, but also relate… and accept us?
It doesn't have to be like that for your teenager.
In the same way that the music of other people can build or break our self esteem: taking control of life’s pen can be incredibly powerful. Therapeutic even. By giving your teenager the ability to write their own theme songs, you are literally gifting them with the opportunity to
discover the power of their own words
allowing them to write the song [or songs] of their own that they can use to celebrate themselves with in the future
remember key moments in their lives, and rewrite the bad day narrative into something more empowering and positive
rewrite negative emotions into opportunities for learning, growth and healing
take control of life’s proverbial pen, and create something they can be proud of… thus building immeasurable confidence and self esteem
Why is this important?
Okay, that question seems a little obvious, but building confidence and resilience in our teenagers is important now, more than ever. As we are dealing with the after-effects of social isolation, significantly reduced physical contact – or even just lack of human to human connection, natural disasters, political upheaval… our young people have had to deal with a significant amount of trauma over the last several years, and that’s not even taking into consideration the massive hormonal changes they’re experiencing, a significant rollercoaster of emotions every day, and sudden threats to one’s self esteem…
Life since 2020 has been challenging, to say the least
But raising your teenager doesn’t have to be as difficult as we think it is. After all: when life gives us lemons, we can make lemon meringue pie.
Instead of limiting TikTok: encourage creative outlets such as dueting songs and songwriting challenges focused on positive and empowering messages.
Instead of monitoring their Instagram account: perhaps you could instead set a challenge to create a viral reel about the importance of social, emotional and mental support.
Instead of turning off television, talk with your teenager about the key concepts that their TV shows are glamorizing… and encourage them to clap back against glorified toxic relationships like Kanye and Kim’s once was.
Lean into their creativity
Instead of trying to row upstream using the rule book from the 90’s that we’re familiar with: ride the waves alongside your teenager, and teach them how to ride the waves safely, constructively, and with common sense. Encourage them to write a song fighting back against the mixed messages of social media – or creatively tell the world who they really are: not simply the labels that have been thrust upon them. Gift them with the ability to express how they want to show up in the world: as boys, girls, trans, or a-sexual.
Support their growth.
Support their creative expression.
Honor their feelings.
Celebrate their song with them.
I guarantee: this will help you to raise the most confident, resilient and strong young adults.
Their self esteem starts with their song.
If you’re looking for new and creative ways to support their creative expression, and their music self esteem journey, I’ve recently launched a four week online program that couples both autonomous learning with group coaching, and includes worksheets, video lessons, online group coaching and more.
Click here to find out more about the program, and enroll your teenager today!