I recently saw a photo floating around Facebook that has the quote “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be Kind. Always.”
I have no idea who coined that phrase or where the meme on social media even came from. But it’s true.
I think about my life as an educator, and I know we have used phrases like that for many years. My most commonly used phrase through the years has been, “meet them where they are.”
This phrase though, meant the most and entered my life at a time when one of my kids was fighting a battle self-worth and depression. And I knew nothing about it.
You see, tweens and teens have all kinds of drama. Some drama they share, some drama they don’t share, and other drama they will share later — when it’s no longer drama. In my almost-15 years of parenting, I’ve noticed something this summer. They are fighting battles daily that I will know nothing about. It can be about friends, or the lack of friends. It can be about pain that their friends are going through. They can be hurting for a teacher, or the dog, or themselves.
The land of the tween and teen can be filled with disappointment, and broken hearts, and celebrities, and books, and just life stuff that just make our little people have very real feelings of hurt, distrust, anger, and sadness. And many times, they may not tell us.
I don’t know about you, but that, in and of itself, was enough to make this momma cry. One of my pride and joys in parenting is that my children and I communicate. A lot. They know I’m here to listen, to offer sound advice, and I never get too emotional, no matter how shocking. They have been known to wake me up in the middle of the night just to have a “private” conversation that they do not what their siblings to partake in.
But no matter what, there are some things they just don’t want to tell me.
And when I think about my own teen years, and adult years nonetheless, I can understand it. There are some things I don’t tell my parents either.
Is there any way to get them to talk about everything?
Probably not. But as parents, we open the doors of communications and leave them open. Even at 1:00 am. Which can be painful for a sleep-deprived momma, but necessary. We watch for signs of depression, sudden changes in appetite or eating habits, general attitude and demeanor, and be willing to involve professionals if something is not right. We trust that the relationships our children have with their siblings, cousins, and friends are strong enough to not involve parents at every twist and turn, but still offer a gentle ear with sound advice.
And we teach our children that everyone they meet, even those they live with, could be fighting a battle they know nothing about. Be kind. Always.