In a previous blog post, I briefly described my path to becoming a Teen Life Coach. There were several pivotal points in my life that contributed to my passion for coaching teens. This is part two, my teen years.
My teen years were rough.
My parents got divorced when I was 14 and my dad moved out the summer before I started high school. Although they laid a foundation of love and support, my home felt broken, empty, and foreign. Gone were the comfy sofa and leather recliner where I used to watch Sunday morning cartoons and soap operas. They were replaced by furniture that felt stiff and uncomfortable.
After he moved out, I didn’t see much of my dad. He was present for special occasions but did not play a role in parenting, or discipline. Those responsibilities fell on the shoulders of my mom, who was busy with her own life and earning a living that could support us.
Consequently, I was mostly unsupervised.
In my freedom-craving teen mind, I thought this was fantastic but I also longed for stability, guidance, and support. Some of those needs were fulfilled by friends, but they were also lost. Many came from broken homes and were also seeking comfort and support. Some of them found it in drugs and alcohol. And, when those substances were presented to me, I didn’t hesitate to give them a try. Besides the “say no to drugs” campaign, no one warned me of the dangers of drugs and alcohol. Adding to that, I had zero fear of getting in trouble because neither parent was paying much attention. So, I said “yes.”
My grades never dropped but I skipped school a lot and eventually, my mom figured something was going on. She tried to intervene but her attempt to set sudden limits was met with rebellion and rage. Teen me was not going to be told what to do or who I could hang out with. She asked my dad for help, but he was way too trusting and believed me when I said I wasn’t doing drugs.
Like many teens, I resisted my mom’s support and boundaries, although that was exactly what I needed. I didn’t have another outlet, so I learned to hide my confusion, pain, and questions behind parties, friends, and lies.
My high school years would have been different if I had a life coach.
I often think about how my life would be different if I had the support of a life coach. If there was someone in my corner whom I could turn to when I was feeling lost and confused. If there was someone who could help me see the impact of the choices I was making and provide a perspective that would help me make different choices. I am confident my high school years would have been different.
I can easily identify how I would coach teen-me: I would help her identify and process the feelings triggered by her parents’ split. I would provide her a broader perspective of life, get her connected to her future goals, and excited about possibilities. Most importantly, I would teach her healthy and more helpful ways to self-soothe.
Parents can’t always be there for their teens, especially when they are sorting out their own complications. Plus, teens don’t always want to talk to their parents and can’t always turn to their friends. This was the case for me and one reason I am so passionate about providing coaching support to teens today.