How to handle a stressful family

Mandy asks: I’m a young teen in need of help. Pressure and stress have gone to my head, and I have had enough with my family! My stepmother and biological mother are smothering me! I am tired of living. Can you give me something to raise my spirits? That’s really what I need right now.

Hi Mandy –

I know exactly how you feel!  And I can promise you one other thing – so does every person reading this!!!  EVERYONE goes through it!  Especially when you’re a teenager!

You might have heard of a famous actor named James Dean.  His most famous role was in a movie called “Rebel Without a Cause,” where he played a teenager pushed to the edge in lots of ways.  At the beginning of the movie, he gets in trouble with the cops, and his parents come to get him, arguing and worrying and criticizing and scolding until he finally screams, “You’re tearing me APART!”

Sound familiar?

Mandy, I would love to give you something to raise your spirits.  But I don’t know you well enough to know what kind of songs or jokes or food you like (for me: Artie Shaw, watching cats slip on bananas, and cheeseburgers!  Just in case you were wondering).

So instead, I’m going to make a point that I often do, but I think it just can’t be emphasized enough – This Will Pass.  It is very hard for teenagers to believe this, and there’s a very important reason for that.

In the last decade or so, scientists have discovered a fascinating thing about brain development.  By the time a kid becomes a teenager, their brain is fully complete, with one exception.  They don’t yet have a full sense of Time.  That sense isn’t full till one is 19 or so.


This is why teenagers are so passionate and intense (which is great) and why they so often feel that what they’re going through at the time will last forever.  (I love to point out that Shakespeare was totally right to have Romeo and Juliet be teenagers; if they were in their 20s, they’d have calmly worked to find a way to either make their parents get along, or sneak away.  So what a bore that play would have turned out to be!)


Mandy, it totally stinks that you’re having to go through all this with your mother and stepmother.  It’s not fair and it’s not reasonable.  But it is temporary!  The day will come when you can move out, or you can get them to treat you better.  But for now, my impassioned advice to you is to do what every dog in the world does when they’re left at home alone.  Trust that somehow, in some way, life will get good again.  And it almost always does.


And in the meantime…   songs, jokes, and food…  hey those can really help!





PS:  But if there’s anything I can suggest, to make dealing with these ladies easier, just let me know.  I’m always glad to help.



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