Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Not So Sweet 16?

Ask the Life Coach

Dear Coach,

Being a teenager in this new world of COVID-19 is really challenging. Although I see a few friends in person (we obey social distancing guidelines), I miss having sleepovers, dating, and impromptu parties. I’m also worried about what school will look like.

I’m really mindful of my responsibility to not be an asymptomatic person who passes the virus on —especially to someone with health risks like my friend who is diabetic or my Nona who has COPD. However, I feel like much of the joy has been taken out of my life and I’m only 16! Help!


16 and Floundering

Dear 16,

Thank you! Thank you for being a responsible teenager who cares more about the welfare of others than about your own fun. You are a role model for other teens and many adults. I hope that cheers you up just a bit.

I don’t have ready answers for you. I’m floundering too. Having grandchildren who are teenagers, my heart goes out to all of you as you miss part of this awesome time of your lives. 

One of my granddaughters is worried about what’s going to happen with marching band and school musicals this fall, another is worried about transcripts for college—her school-issued pass/fail reports last semester. Perhaps these types of circumstances are also on your mind. What else is worrying you? Share your concerns with someone who cares about you. Trust me, this helps. 

I don’t like the slogan “we’re all in this together” because I think the pandemic isn’t affecting all of us equally. As a teenager, you’re psychologically wired to begin distancing from your family and connecting more to your peers. You need the shoulder to shoulder (i.e. sports, dancing, kissing, hugging) experience with your friends more than many adults do. 

However, I do know that you will learn valuable life-altering lessons from this experience, millions of other 16-year-olds are sharing your frustration, and those who love you—especially the Nona you’re caring about—have empathy for your situation. 

Some of the teens who seem to be doing better than others have reached out to help people in their community by making masks, writing notes to people in nursing homes, or other activities. Others have found joy in creativity like learning to play an instrument, cooking, or crafts. Give it a try.

My last suggestion is to shift away from what you’ve lost to plans for the future—even if you don’t know exactly when that will be. Just be assured that “this too shall pass” and you will have many happy “normal” years ahead of you. 

Mershon Niesner is a Certified Life Coach and author of “Mom’s Gone, Now What? Ten Steps to Help Daughters Move Forward After Mother Loss” which is now available on Amazon and from other booksellers. For more information, visit Email your coaching questions to Your identity will be kept strictly confidential.

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