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Your Child's Life... or Their Grades? (aka 'Normal' Teenage Behavior is NOT Normal)

Updated: Oct 9, 2020

Which do you value more? Your child's life, or their grades?

This might sound like a crazy story, but it actually happened...

A few weeks ago, my husband Greg received a phone call. It was from a concerned parent. Her son had just admitted to having suicidal thoughts.

Greg gets phone calls like this frequently. TOO frequently.

He's worked with youth for 20-years. Anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation are increasing. Not to mention 'failure-to-launch. It’s becoming an ‘epidemic’.

So when he received this phone call he wasn’t surprised.

What DID shock him most was NOT that she said her son was considering suicide...

It was the question this mom asked next...

She had already mentioned she thought it would be best to bring her son home (he was currently attending public school and she thought that was contributing to the problem).

Yet after saying that she asked, “But what about his grades? If he leaves now he won’t get credit for the semester.

He couldn’t believe what he was hearing!!!

Her son admitted he’s considering suicide and she's worried about his grades?!


Hearing her say this, Greg thought back to a commitment he made when our kids were young.

He and I pledged that if our kids were ever struggling with something...

...anxiety, self-esteem, drugs, pornography, whatever...

We would do WHATEVER IT TAKES to save them.

To create a ‘pattern interrupt’...

...even if we had to move to Tanzania and live at the top of Kilimanjaro.

Our child's well-being is worth any sacrifice. It's worth more than anything else, including 'good grades.'

But then Greg realized it’s not this mom’s fault she's worried about his grades.

She only wants to do what she believes is best for her son -- ensuring his academic career.

She's doing it because she's been taught that ACADEMICS MATTER MORE than nearly anything else.

That academics will lead to success.

That academics will help her teen live a happy life.

It’s all a lie.

Research shows that academics -- learning and getting ‘good grades’ or staying up to grade level in math, science, language arts, history, et al -- will NOT translate to happiness in life.

Happiness in life -- the ability to become a competent, confident, capable adult -- is determined by a different set of skills (which we're going to share with you.)

But those skills are NOT currently being taught to our teens.

That's because they weren’t taught to us (their parents) either. Which is why many parents are failing to pass them on to their kids.

The result?

An increase in the 'epidemics' Greg's now seeing in today’s youth.

While there is some counsel he can provide for moms who have teens that are thinking about suicide...

What he REALLY wishes he could do is go back in time...

And give moms like this the WARNING SIGNS to watch out for.

Because he's seen the patterns again and again.

When you catch these warning signs and INTERVENE...

Well, it can prevent not only suicide, but addictions, depression, and failure-to-launch.

So what are the WARNING SIGNS to watch for?

After 20-years of mentoring teens and parents, Greg has noticed that many problems are preventable -- anxiety, depression, suicide, porn, and other addictions.

He can see it coming because of the 'signs'.

Wouldn't it be powerful if you could see them too?

Then you would know whether your teen was on the right track or not... BEFORE it was 'too late'. (Greg calls 'too late' the 'train wreck at the end of the tunnel'. Like the phone call he got today from a mom who's son is on drugs and has been to jail twice.)

There are some clear 'signs' along the way which can prevent the wreck if you watch for them.

So what are these signs?

You should watch out if your teen is:

  • Despondent (low spirits, loss of hope or courage)

  • Numb (shows little emotion, motivation, or excitement)

  • Apathetic (no interest or enthusiasm or concern - "I don't care")

  • Disengaged (not interested in what's going on in the family; no goals, 'out of gear', no drive)

  • Irritable (easily annoyed or made angry -- unless they are doing 'their thing')

  • Indolent (avoiding activity or exertion -- not working on anything that excites or motivates them)

  • Buffering (using music, phones, movies, friends, etc. to avoid confronting difficult emotions, situations, or challenges)

  • Addicted (to screens, social media, video games, food, porn, etc.)

  • Not interested in doing things they used to love to do

"Wait a sec," I hear some of you saying. "Isn't this just normal teenage behavior?"

No. It's not. And THIS is the root of the problem.

Society has TRAINED us to believe that this is the type of behavior to be expected from teenagers.

But that is a lie.

Healthy, well-adjusted, vision-driven, self-sufficient, self-directed, grounded youth DO NOT act like this.

Peer-oriented, floundering, disoriented, directionless, conflicted 'teenagers' do behave this way.

We're not talking about a bad day here or there. Everyone experiences that. It's part of the 'brainstorm' of adolescence.

We're talking about ongoing, every day, most-of-the-time behavior that is a WARNING SIGN something is off.

'Iconic' teenager behavior is the warning sign of a train wreck waiting to happen.

It's true. But it hasn't always been this way.

George Washington was writing Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior at age 14 after studying a similar book written in French.

DaVinci was drawing and daydreaming and an apprenticed artist by age 15.

Thomas Jefferson attended the College of William and Mary at the age of 16.

We have to alter our expectations of the accepted definition of teenage behavior as being akin to the bullet list above.

Society is CREATING that type of teenager. And as a society (starting with us, the parents), we NEED to change our definitions and expectations.

This is NOT how a teenager should behave nor does behave when they are healthy, happy, and thriving. This is how 'broken' teenagers act. And it's a phenomenon that dates back only fifty years or so.

Again, don't get me wrong. Every teen will experience some of these things at some point. So will parents.

But it should NOT be what they feel MOST of the time. 

That's broken. That's a warning sign.

In a later post, I will share what a 'thriving' teenager looks like, and how to mentor your own teen to adulthood.


P.S. Greg and I are very intentional and passionate when it comes to education. We know we fall short, we still have tons to learn, but we have high ideals, visions, and dreams.

We're on a quest to CREATE the best education possible for our children. We are also in search of a COMMUNITY of like-minded parents who want to join us on this journey.

Are you one of us?

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