Dear Mom, What I Need You to Know As I Head Back to School


back to school stress teen tween


Dear Mom,

As I head back to school, here are a few things I want you to know, but chances are I won’t tell you…

It would really help me a lot if you’d try to remember what it felt like when you were my age.

Do you remember how stressful it was being my age? How badly you wanted to fit in? Or how awkward you felt? Or how much you hated math or writing papers or whatever it was?

It would really help me out if you’d refresh your memory so you’d understand that my outbursts are an expression of the overwhelm and stress I can feel.


Give me space.

I’m entering a new chapter of my life. I want more freedom and independence.

I know you care and want me to do well but, I hate when you try to micromanage my life by constantly checking my grades, nagging me about what I’m not doing, or asking me about my friends. When you do this all I want is get away from you. I still love you but I feel smothered.


I’m trying to figure things out.

I feel anxious a lot and try to hide this from you because I don’t want to talk about it or have you try to fix it. Give me time and be patient with my process.

I’m learning to manage my time and navigate the stressful world I’m living in. I don’t want you to know that I’m scared to grow up. I’m trying to figure things out on my own and need you to trust that I can.


I want you to care more about me than you do about my homework or messy room.

I know my room is messy and my backpack can look like a bomb went off, but this doesn’t mean I don’t care. It’s just not on the top of my priority list. It doesn’t mean that I will grow up to be a disorganized pig for the rest of my life. Be more interested in listening and knowing and understanding me than lecturing me on my mess.


If you think something’s wrong, you’re probably right, but…

Don’t press the issue or pelt me with questions. I’ll come to you when I’m ready. Enough said.


Listen and show interest in the stuff I’m interested in.

Even if you hate that I play video games or spend a lot of time on SnapChat or YouTube, rather than criticizing these things, ask me about it and seek to understand what’s really important to me even if it isn’t to you.


I need boundaries even though I will fight you.

I need you to set limits for me.  I haven’t developed the brakes and steering yet to know how to set limits for myself. Be firm but be kind when you do. Talk to me first and let me have a say.

I need don’t need you to be my friend or to want me to like you all the time. Boundaries make me feel safe.  

I won’t tell you that I need limits around my gaming and phone usage. I will fight you and get angry, but understand that in my heart I know I need them and I feel better when I do. Don’t expect me to like them or make me bad when I don’t.

And, I don’t need you to be overbearing or controlling when you do, it will have the opposite effect. And remember the older I get the more I need you to loosen up.


Sometimes I just need to chill.

When I get home from school, the last thing I want to do is talk about my day or how much homework I have or if I remembered to turn that paper in.

It’s nothing personal. It doesn’t mean I don’t want to talk to you.

Be a smiling face I see at the end of the day. Get me yummy study snacks I like and let me relax and decompress.


Let me make mistakes.

Seriously, I need this more than anything. This is how I learn.

If I’m constantly fighting you and telling you to back off listen. See what happens. Maybe things won’t be as bad as you think. The more you are on my back the less I want to do what you’re telling me. Don’t step in to rescue me or treat me like I’m not capable of solving my own problems. Let me experience the consequences instead.


If you see me floundering get me help.

Sometimes I might appear lazy or like I don’t care. The truth is I often want to avoid what is hard for me. I need you to be patient and not overreact. Ask me questions about what would be supportive.

I may need a tutor to help me in the academic areas I want to avoid. It’s uncomfortable for me to go to my teacher after class. Encourage me to send them an email asking them questions to make it less painful and to set up a time to meet with them. Ask if you can help me organize my backpack and study/homework space at home.  


Understand that I do want to please you underneath my sometimes disrespectful behavior.

I need you to understand that even though it might not seem like it, there is no one I want to impress as much as much as I want to impress you. Your approval and support matters to me and I need your praise more than you’re criticism. There is nothing that motivates me more than you noticing what I’m already doing and telling me.

Thanks for listening Mom. It means more to me than anything that you understand how I feel and what I need from you.

I do love you,

Your Tween and Teen



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