Recently, I had the extreme pleasure to tour the Fusion Academy campus in Loudoun County. It's one of the most amazing things as a business owner when you connect with others at various networking events… getting to see new places and meet more new people.
Fusion has been mentioned to me by various friends and recommended to me to tour in more than enough conversations, so when I had an opportunity to tour it, I couldn't say "yes" fast enough.
When I walked in, I was greeted with a very open and airy area with student artwork on the walls. To meet the front desk, you walk up the stairs to a very welcoming woman with a huge smile. I almost didn't make it up because I was too busy looking at the artwork and positive motivational sayings on the wall. What a cool way to be greeted!
What really struck me was actually behind me. As I began my tour, pictures were pointed out to me. They were images of all of their teachers…. as TEENAGERS! What a great way to not forget what it was like to be in the shoes of those you teach!
I'm currently digging through old photos to be able to share! I'm just not there yet. Give me time.
The reason I wanted to mention this is that it's a phenomenal connection. I remember as a teen thinking adults didn't get it. Obviously, I didn't have the headspace to acknowledge they once were teenagers. As an adult, I've realized it's not that they don't get it, in most cases it's because they're just simply focused on the things that are most important to them now. When I was 30, I was a new mom and figuring out how to keep a tiny person alive. She's now 16, so I think I did that pretty well. At 35, I had two little people that I was keeping entertained, cared for… and my world looked a little different in other areas than it did at 30. It was a progression.
So why do I think the connection between parents/teachers/coaches/mentors and teenagers is so important? Just think about basic human needs! Maslow's hierarchy of needs certainly comes into play here. Safety, security and belonging! It's one of the reasons I beg my own kids to not just text to talk to their friends. FaceTime, despite being a digital communication tool, is far better than texting. I look at it as no different than the telephone. Hello George Jetson! We've arrived!
Another reason it's important to remember what it was like to be a teenager is that we deepen our relationships and increase the trust between each other, more importantly in our youth. Our wellbeing and mental health shows that when you have someone supporting you, no matter the role, you are happier, stress a little less and, I've read, more resilient! It's the security that support brings. I'll tell you first hand, my children know I have their back no matter what. We've long told them not to fear our reactions. It's provided a very open line of communication between us and even in these teenage years, they've gone pretty easy on us! Fingers crossed it continues!
The role of parent is second-to-none. Building that trust, having empathy for our kids is unparalleled. I know it's hard. Especially when many of the things our youth are going through are not what we had to face…. technology, pandemic. But can't we say that about our own parents? There were certainly changes in society that they didn't live through as a teenager! But having a parent that has your back, that loves you no matter what… it's easy to say, but our actions speak volumes.
So I guess what I'm saying is to remember what it's like. Yes, we have to parent/teach/coach, but we can also be that safe space for our children. The more open you are to them, the more you get back. Give it a try!