by Dr. Scott Zarcinas, (aka DoctorZed) – doctor, author, and transformologist. He specialises in helping work-at-home fathers build their self-esteem and self-belief so they have the confidence and the courage to live a life that is true to themself.
In March 2017, Adele performed in front of 70,000 screaming fans at Adelaide Oval. Most packing the arena were female, and most of them were teenagers and young adults. My 14-year-old daughter was one of them.
Two days later, I was Dad Taxi Driver taking my daughter and her friend to another show and I overheard them talking about the Adele concert. They both had had a fantastic time and were still buzzing from the experience, but then the conversation turned to something unexpected.
“Why did she have to talk about body image?” my daughter said.
“I know, I get it, she didn’t have to go on about it,” her friend replied.
Apparently, Adele had taken a moment during the concert to address body image issues with the audience and to tell them no matter what, “love yourself and love your body”.
It was good advice, and I hoped at the time my daughter and her friend would take it on board.
Common issues teenagers face
Body image and identity issues are just one of many causes of anxiety in our teenage children. Friendships and relationships, schooling and academic pressures, future careers, global warming, social media, bullying, all add to the rising incidence of anxiety in our society.
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (Australia’s health 2016), one in seven children and adolescents aged 4-17 suffered a mental disorder in the preceding 12 months, equivalent to 278,000 young people. Of these, anxiety disorders were the most prevalent disorder among females, and more common in the 12–17 years age group.
In 2020, the COVID pandemic has meant those statistics are getting worse for all age groups, including teenagers. State governments across Australia are increasing their mental health budgets for 2021 in anticipation of a significant increase in mental health issues.
What parents can do to help their teenagers
What can we do to help our children develop the mental and emotional resilience to become mentally healthy young adults?
According to Frances Scovel Shinn, author of the bestselling book, The Game of Life and How to Play It: “The first start toward success is to be glad you are yourself.”
Along with Adele’s advice to love yourself and love your body, this is also great advice for your teenage children—to be glad they are themselves. It’s to have self-worth, to value who you are as a human being.
This means being glad about all aspects of you—your mind, body, emotions, spirit.
Above all, despite everything that’s happened or is happening in the world at the moment, despite all the uncertainty of this pandemic, this means being glad you are alive.
This is so important, in fact, your teenager’s future success depends on it. Not their level of education. Not how much money they earn. Not their gender. Not their intellect.
But simply to be glad they are themselves.
Which is the message Adele was trying to tell my daughter and her friend that night at the Adelaide Oval.
This, then, is your gift to your teenage children this upcoming holiday period and beyond—to constantly let them know they are wanted, they are needed, and they are loved.
When your teenager knows and feels that they are wanted, they are needed, and they are loved, they will have a stable foundation for self-love and self-worth that will carry them throughout their whole life.
They will be glad they are themselves.
The rest will take care of itself.