Tuesday, October 23 , 2018, 9:21 am | Fog/Mist 62º

 
 
 
 
Teenagers

Louise Palanker: FOMO, Separating from My Parents, a Child of Divorce

Question from Sam

All I’ve ever wanted socially is to feel like people wanted me. But I don’t think that’s ever happened.

Every time I get close with people, they hurt me and have a party I’m not invited to or ignore me and shut me out for no reason. It hurts me a lot.

I don’t know how to keep this from happening, and I’m sick of getting let down. Help!

Weezy

The thing is that none of us can ever keep this from happening. It’s just part of life and the crazy twist is that the less fear you show and the less you react to it the less it will happen.

We now live in a time when a lot of what we do is going on in public, on social media. This has led to a syndrome called FOMO. Fear Of Missing Out.

For thousands of years gatherings have taken place that have not included most people. In fact, EVERYONE who was not there has always been almost everyone who was on the planet. In 1868, you would not have been sobbing in the barn about missing the hoedown in Summerland because you would not have known about it.

Now if two friends run into each other on the pier and post a photo, you wonder why they didn’t think to call you.

The truth is that not everything is about you. Most of life will go on without you, and that is fine because you are perfectly capable of making good use of your time.

The more you scramble to be a part of something that was not meant to involve you the more desperate you may seem and the more people may tend to not include you.

I’m being blunt because you are not the only person who feels stung by this so I am not just speaking to you. I’m addressing everyone, including myself.

If we can accept that these feelings are universal, we may be better prepared to “like” the photo, smile because we love the people in the photo and let it go because we will see them soon enough. We can then go make some cocoa and read a good book or watch a good movie or phone a good friend or write a great column ; ] or whatever it is that we were going to be doing anyway.

Give people a chance to miss you and be creative and productive. You will have excellent friends in your life. I promise.

FOMO Horror Movie, from CollegeHumor:

(CollegeHumor video)

                                                                 •        •        •

Question from Taylor

Weezy, I need an opinion. I’m 16 years old and I guess I’m at the age when I’m starting to become my own person and separate myself from my parents.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve always had it in my head that a child is exactly like their parents. They are two halves of their parents. They grow up around their lifestyles and personalities and end up becoming a product of the two.

However, I’ve started realizing more and more who I am and it’s nothing like either of my parents.

To be quite honest, my parents have both had rough lives. They don’t have a good marriage. I see a lot of their problems on a daily basis. My mom has told me a lot, and they made a lot of mistakes.

I can’t separate myself from the thought that I will be like them, and they’ve messed up in life and the problems in our family are because of their decisions.

My mom makes me scared for things that should be exciting stages of my life. She tells me that marriage is the hardest thing you will ever do and that she and my dad were happier before they had us kids.

Getting married and starting a family should be one of the greatest milestones someone will have. And she puts a negative cast on all of it.

I understand not everything in life is easy. I’m not being naive to that fact, but why can’t she see that there is a beautiful side? I’m scared that I am doomed to be like them and that my marriage will be terrible and everything will be hard.

Weezy

I think that you instinctively know the answer to this question and that you have come to me for verification and reassurance. Let’s start with the basics.

» You are at the exact age when kids begin to naturally separate from their parents. You are suddenly able to see where your parents end and where you begin.

Up until now, your very survival has been dependent upon your being all in with your folks. A small child is not able to sustain his or her own life. The parents are the center of the universe. The flaws and the cracks are invisible to you. Seeing them would doom all of you.

As you grow into your teens your emotional and biological duty is to determine how you are like your parents and, more important, how you are unlike them. Your clarity improves along with your ability to take care of yourself. This can feel like a betrayal. It is not.

» If you are the genetic child of both your parents you will share certain similarities with them but you are still an entirely different and unique person.

I give you, Charlie Sheen and Martin Sheen. Yes, they look alike but they have approached life differently.

Look harder at the people in your world. You will find many varied views between parents and their children.

Did you know that Ronald Reagan Jr. is a devout liberal? His brother, Michael, is a conservative like their dad, the late President Ronald Reagan. Guess which one is adopted? It’s Michael. They have each carved their own path.

There is no one exactly like you. YOU get to find your own happiness. If you are determined to do so, then you will.

» Since you are being raised by your parents, you will be influenced by them. Influences can be both positive and negative. What I mean by this is that sometimes you will look  at your parents’ behavior and learn what NOT to do.

» Some people are genetically predisposed to possess a happier outlook. This can come from anywhere. If your glass is half full then you are blessed. 

» It’s heartbreaking that your mom is sad and feeling overwhelmed. However, that’s what shrinks are for. She should not be sharing all of this with her child. At least, not until you are well grown and out of the house.

You are not her pal. You are her daughter and she should be endeavoring to infuse you with hope and confidence.

Your mom is correct. Nothing can ever be perfect. Love and marriage are challenging and being a parent can be the toughest job on earth. It is also THE MOST IMPORTANT.

Most people choose it and get from it a reward that is immeasurable. It may not seem like it right now, but you are that reward for your mom. And you will earn that joy for yourself one day should you choose to become a parent.

You are also learning now that even on the toughest of parenting days, you will dig deep to lift up your child.

                                                                 •        •        •

Question from Sally

I’m in a rough situation right now. My parents got divorced when I was 8 and they have lived apart since then. My mom has been in and out of relationships and she just got a job in Hawaii where she gets to go to Italy and France and a bunch of other places for work. She will be staying in Hawaii for one year.

I have been living with my dad ever since she moved. Living with my dad is awesome. I can say I am closer to my dad than I am to my mom, but I still love them equally.

My dad and I share a lot of interests. I have lived with him in this house since I was 2. We have a dog named Jazz and I love her soooo soo much. My dad and I have a different type of relationship than I have with my mom.

But this is where it gets tricky. My mom got engaged in April and when she comes back from Hawaii she will be moving in with a new boyfriend on the other side of the country!!!).

So I have to choose. I either move to my mom’s and do all of high school there, and only see my dad in the summer and on long holidays. Or I stay with my dad and my friends and my extended family and my dog and everything I have known.

I can’t leave my dad and I can’t live forever without mom! My mom keeps saying she can’t live without me for another year. And my dad says he couldn’t live a day without me.

I need my mom. I’m a 13-year-old girl. I need my dad. I’m just as much his kid as I am hers.

I’ve tried to convince my mom to move back here, but she’s hell-bent on moving to a state five states away from ours. And she keeps trying to bribe me by saying she would buy me a new cat.

No matter what I choose I will hurt someone. I don’t know what to do.

Weezy

This is a truly impossible situation but one that still requires a decision. In fact, it begs for  a thoughtful decision that is as pure as possible.

Therefore the bribes and the begging absolutely need to stop. Your parents can not ... must not behave like children here. They need to be strong and be your parents.

ABSOLUTELY no guilt on your part should be involved. You are being forced to choose. The grown-ups decided to split up. Your mother decided to spend a year in Hawaii to further her career. She is deciding to relocate to another state with another man, far away from your current life.

These are all decisions that were made by the adults in your life. These decisions are forcing your hand. So when you make your choice, do it with grace and respect but with NO GUILT. You GET to be happy. This is YOUR childhood.

I think the three of you should see a family therapist who will help you make the best decision for you, the child. And more important, help you make peace with it. You must come first.

Watching this video may help you:

(The Child of Divorce video)

                                                                 •        •        •

Got a question for Weezy? Email her at [email protected] and it may be answered in a subsequent column.

Louise Palanker is a co-founder of Premiere Radio Networks, the author of a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age novel called Journals, a comedian, a filmmaker (click here to view her documentary, Family Band: The Cowsills Story), a teacher and a mentor. She has a teen social network/IOS app and weekly video podcast called Journals, built around a philosophy of cyber kindness. She also teaches a free stand-up comedy class for teens at the Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara​. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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