Dear Children,

After I finished writing to your parents last week addressing the subject of you seeking refuge in peers and other online sources to deal with the many emotional crises you go through, I felt it was imperative to involve you too in the conversation. More so because, when the discussion revolves around your life and well-being, it is impossible to exclude you from the dialogue.

In all probability, the biggest gripe you may have – especially in your teens – about parents and guardians is that they unilaterally decide things on your behalf; they don’t understand your dilemmas and challenges; they serve up indiscriminate advice. I have been there and I have thought the same; hence I know why many of you hesitate to approach your parents with your issues, and rather confide in friends. Because they are wearing the same shoes as you; walking on the same eggshells; facing the same stress with regard to academics, relationships, future prospects, expectations, hormonal shifts…oh, well, what is it that you are not grappling with in this transition phase? How on earth will parents, who are several decades away, understand the travails of the teens?

Your thoughts are valid from where you are presently standing. It is precisely how every human being in your place would feel, but there is a caveat: The fact that this belief makes you reach out more freely to outsiders to seek solace and solutions is filled with dangers. For one, do you think your peers who themselves have no definite answers to their own quandaries are competent enough to give you solutions to yours? They are in the same boat as you – confused and challenged. Their wisdom does not come from years of walking this earth and gaining experience. It comes from the social media, from anonymous and unreliable contacts on the internet; from their own limited view and understanding of life; and their advice can often be rash and will lack sound judgement.

This is in no way meant to undermine your deep connections with your peers and friends, but it would stand you in good stead to know that they are not your primary problem-solvers. They are only as qualified as you and they are equally saddled with problems of the same nature as you. Sharing your concerns and pains with your friends certainly lifts off a lot of weight from your chest and you also feel better that you are not alone in the struggles. You can share your thoughts, give each other a shoulder and share positive vibes, but please know that the real solutions come when you talk to those who are wiser and practically more competent – parents, teachers and other guardians.

When I see apps and websites where youngsters post their problems and others of their age offer solutions, I begin to worry. Why aren’t children approaching their parents? Why are they seeking advice from outsiders whom they barely know? It frightens me to think how misplaced and random the advice might be, and I wonder if children indeed follow them blindly.

Parents want their children to be open with them, sharing anything that might hamper their peace, because no one will have your back as firmly as them. Mostly, what you call stress might be caused by little discomforts that you magnify, and your parents will be able to show you the right perspective. Or what makes many of you think you are depressed might be caused by a difficulty to which you have no solution, but your parents will have? Isn't this true?

Until next, keep glowing; keep growing.

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