Parenting scenario (FOR A FUTURE FANTASY NOVEL)

Let’s say you are the parent of two teenagers, one is sixteen while the other is eighteen years old.

Both teens are doing good in school academically and even participating in clubs and sports and are doing good in that too. Teachers talk to other teachers how great your children are in their classes and relay the message to you and your spouse.

They are at the top of their class and many kids like them and they are doing great overall socially. As a parent you are proud, but you feel that something is off and can’t put your finger on it.

You decide to mention your worries to your spouse, who begins to wonder why you feel that way. So, you and your spouse decide to investigate the matter.

Turns out, both children are VERY UNHAPPY and it shows in the journal and behind their usual expressions. You and your spouse aren’t hard on your children to do their best, but they are lacking so much confidence in themselves and are just going with the flow. You ask them what they want to do after the graduation high school. They become anxious and one of them break into hysterical crying.

As parents, you and your spouse are greatly concern about this.
What would you do?

NOTE: What do you think could be a deeper issue for the children? If they are doing well in school and socially, but feel unhappy and anxious about their future and everything else in their life, what could be the potential problem?

It’s like the equivalent to a person going with the flow in life but not happy about following along and they want to branch out and do something else, but knowing that could cause problems. So, they do well in school and socially because it is expected of them, but both teens are not happy.

Thoughts and feelings?

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It happens. In my moms group, we have a writer whose son imploded his Jr year because his best friend died along with complications of changing his coach out, and finally took a fall from a horse that nearly killed him.

This boy spends a ton of time talking to his mom, now, because she sits and listens. He’s back to riding (and scaring his mom), contemplating whether or not wrestling is going to happen.

Generally, as long as I don’t make my kid’s misery about me, we can work through most anything, and I’m good with that.

And I wish books were written like this, more, because most people have a really good life that they break against. The strong struggle. You only see the surface.

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I have no idea. I’m never going to have kids, but my knee-jerk reaction is to wonder whether it’s hormones and brain chemical imbalances from puberty. Have the parents taken the kids to a doctor for a complete checkup to weed out depression, anxiety disorders, etc.? Have the parents invested in good health insurance for each child?

Is it just normal worries about their future? In which case, have the parents set up college trust funds for each kid so they can experiment with different majors without worrying about costs or student loan debt? Did the parents save up a nest egg before having kids in the first place?

There are just so many possibilities for what could be wrong, but lots of money seems to fix many of them.

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This is something I’ve pondered a bit.

Like in the scenario the parents aren’t hard on their kids, but it’s more like the children are way harder on themselves and feel confused about their lives and what the future will be for them.

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Life is hard. Kids don’t get it from home life all the time. I mean, my eldest started kindergarten on Covid protocol. Just as soon as they were comfortable at school, her class was disbanded for 2 week to stay home because someone tested positive. And a hurricane interrupted her school year. Mom and Dad weren’t the issue.

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Well, it’s a weird scenario.
The kids are just going with the flow, but it feels like they are doing too much and getting too much attention. It freaks them out because they want to do good in school, but rather not stand out.

They are doing what is asked of them, yet they don’t feel happy about it. It’s almost akin to having an existential crisis and constantly questioning so much in their young life and other things.

The parents aren’t beating down on them to do so well and are happy, but one of them is wondering if they are really alright. Yes, the teens will go to the doctor and therapist to gain more information.

Oh, this is just a hypothetical scenario. I understand because I rather not have children either. Also, I plan to utilize this for a future fantasy novel.

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Honestly, this was me as a teen. In my case it was just depression. Sometimes there isn’t an external cause for depression, it just happens. Mine is genetic, runs in the family.

I’d ask my child if there was anything going on in their lives that they knew was causing it. If they had a reason, I’d address it and go from there. If they didn’t know, I’d suggest mental health counseling and seeing a psychiatrist about possibly getting on some medications to help. A mix of counseling and meds helped me a great deal. I’d also reassure my child that they could always talk to me about absolutely and unconditionally anything and I would be there to support them emotionally.

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Yeah, as someone who grew up in said circumstances, I’d do my best to make sure this didn’t become a problem in the first place ;-;

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How would you tackle it as a pretend parent in this scenario?

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So, you would get to the heart of their issues then seek outside professional help for helping them, right?

Essentially, yes.

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I’m thinking about what a extended version of this scenario would be like. :thinking:

Well, ideally I’d like to be the kind of parent who my kids trust so I’d hope they’d be able to just sit down and talk with me. No judgement, no getting in trouble, just talking to figure out what’s going on and what we can do about it.

Hopefully this would happen BEFORE getting to the point of invading the privacy of a journey because wtf who does that??? Kids need privacy too, people!

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As a childfree person, I’ll never know what it’s like to be a parent but I can relate to the teenagers as I was a high academic achiever yet still had issues.

I would say, it’s easy for teenagers to still experience self worth/esteem issues, even if it seems that they have the healthiest family unit. This can be due to experiences growing up that may have happened outside of the home, seemingly innocuous but consistently built up and got preprogrammed into them so that they subconsciously behave in ways that they can’t understand but it makes them feel safe.

Sometimes, it can be something as simple as this is what they have to do, thereby going against their instinct, and if I’m the parent in this scenario then…ha, without inner work, that programming is going to be passed on. You can be good, even perfect, at something and still take no personal joy from it.

There’s also the type of encouragement that their parents give them (well-intentioned but miscommunicated) such as do your best. But unknowingly/subconsciously, did the parent indicate that this is the only path to go on, that all other paths will not be as successful even if the best of work is done, that pursuing something that is not guaranteed despite the work is a huge risk? Perception is not the same between adult vs child brains.

The type of encouragement can also build up perceived notions in the child’s mind that if their dreams are risky then it’s not a good path, they won’t feel safe, even if they excel at what they do love. So they become risk averse, play it safe and then wonder why they’re still not reaching as high as another person who has less education/skills/talents yet are getting so much more results.

One thing a child will always ensure is that they do anything to make themselves feel safe, even if it’s something hurtful, so if a parent guides them but unknowingly pushes them onto a well-trodden path (instead of letting them feel safe enough to explore/pursue their desires) for the sake of protecting them, then that overly protective energy the child grew up with can also make them feel scared of the big, bad world and close in on themselves… which also makes them unhappy.

Another thing is the media the parents consume that can be reflected to the kid. If murders appear on the news, did they tell the teen to not go anywhere again or do they tell them to keep and eye out and be safe?

Also, if their friend betrays them and their parents rub salt into their wounds and tell them not to ever have friends again, how are they going to survive without relational skills? How are they going to get in touch with themselves, improve their own instinct and judgment of others when it comes to experiences that want to shape them?

Therefore,

little to no parental protection = unhappy/lost

overt parental protection = unhappy/lost.

If these teens are your characters, maybe you should explore the parental characters as inner world (home life) is also very important as outer world (societal) interactions.

A parent who goes through their kid’s journal probably doesn’t respect their kid’s sense of privacy, which means that there can be overlap in other aspects of their home life.

So if a parent is not self aware and cannot see if any of their actions might be contributing towards their child’s unhappiness then the conversation they have with their kids is 95% likely to dissolve into an argument. It’s also pretty likely that they are being told how to approach their life, instead of doing what feels right for them in that moment (within reason, of course). This also depends on the culture dynamics/overall world setting for your story as well.

Without unearthing the actual reason for their unhappiness, any plan of action will not be very effective.

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In term of the scenario and the future of the novel, it’s more along the lines of I doing what is asked of me and following the “rules” of society, but is that really okay? Should I continue doing my very best knowing that it’s soul-crushing or just do my own thing without upsetting people?

So, the teens are questioning what is right and wrong with themselves and society as a whole, while trying to figure out what can make them happy.

The teens are dealing with a existential crisis and the realization that life is only going to get harder for them. Unless the system is slowly bending to their whim in a way that it feels easy, but not truly easy.

Does that make sense? I apologize if it doesn’t.

I feel like it’s difficult to give you an answer because, due to the details, I just give some general advice as it would relate to a human story. I also feel like this is such a complex issue you’re touching on that cannot be put in clear black-and-white terms.

Also, as someone who is a character-driven writer, i always consider how my characters’ emotions/actions affect their outer world. The most important thing to consider: should your character give a damn and find a way out OR play it safe?

If they’re pursuing something that does not make them happy, then they should be questioning themselves as to why they cannot find the courage to pursue their desires. They should be looking within, but teenagers don’t have the capacity to yet look within themselves unless they are super self aware. Still, they need to be put into situations that make them mature and understand that even though you can’t change society, you can break the mold.

If they live in a judgmental society, that pressure is understood as to why they won’t want to pursue their desires but… I think you need to bring your characters to the realization there’s nothing wrong with them, and that life will be hard whether they pursue their desires or not. Because, even if they pursue their passions, there’s no guarantee that they’ll be successful. Nothing comes easy. Even if it feels good and easy, you’re still doing the work but it doesn’t feel terrible because you love what you do.

So, what is better? Being depressed about not doing what you love or doing what you love even if it doesn’t have society’s mark of approval?

Your characters will have to make that internal shift before they can even act on their desires. They’re only in an existential crisis, until they’re not. So take a look at your society, may it be dystopian or just judgmental, see how their actions would affect the fabric of what they know and how it would break the mold and what would the consequences be AND if those consequences are worth their personal happiness.

Look for a way your characters can take back their personal power and own their decisions, no matter the outcome.

But one thing is sure, it sounds like an internal issue which will need an internal solution.

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As of right now, the thought is just an idea for the foreseeable future.

Right now, the characters live in a semi-magical society that is drastically different than anything on earth.

Though I love the points that you’ve made. The teenagers are different than most teenagers, thanks for commenting.

Also, when I do decide to work on this, can I ask you for a few helpful tips and/or advice.

Honestly, I think it would be better as a novella instead and one that is a standalone.

Again, thank you.

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Ah, that makes sense. So yep, it all depends on what your society entails. As long as you do make your characters relatable and human to your readers, despite the fact that they are just magically gifted and different, then I think you should be fine :slight_smile:

Also, when I do decide to work on this, can I ask you for a few helpful tips and/or advice.

Sure! I’ll be happy to help :smiley:

And you’re welcome.

I wish you all the best in your writing endeavours.

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Most certainly. Also, this is grand advice for the novel I am working on now as well, honestly any novel.

Thanks so much!