You know what happens when you fill a balloon up too much – it pops! And, we seem to be a nation on the verge of exploding. There is so much pent up frustration, anxiety, fear, anger and despair locked up inside the American people we are about to burst. Something has got to give. It doesn’t matter who you are or what your life situation is, we are all affected by the same issues right now…a depressed economic situation, an education crisis, a healthcare crisis, a nation at war…not to mention everything else we deal with on a daily basis in our own personal lives…losing our job, going through a divorce, getting sick…there is always something. You never know what is really going on with people, but we know this for sure…people are pissed off and we are directing our anger outward. We are mad at our boss, our girlfriend, the kid who tattled, the company who outsourced us, the government pinching us, drivers who hesitate at a red light, grandmas who take too long at the check out, the kids crying on the airplane…whomever. If others are not doing and saying exactly want we want, we get mad. We lock it up the best we can, but if we don’t have a constructive outlet for all the pressure, we unload on society.
There has been so much violence recently. Whether we are talking about shooting sprees, domestic abuse, bullying, gang rapes, beatings, lighting people on fire, angry mob mentalities or just yelling at the kids for no reason. We are a stressed out country. Life seems out of control and it’s driving us crazy. We all just need to count to ten and take a deep breath…
Increased stress, both social and economic, increases violent tendencies. Teen stress has increased in the last year. It is estimated that 10% of teens suffer from anxiety and 28% of tweens say they are stressed. Teen bullying is up. Teen violence is up. In fact, homicide is the second leading cause of death among young people ages 10-24 overall, suicide is third. Breathe. So, what happens when our kids are over-exposed to all our stuff, combined with their stuff and they feel stretched in too many different directions? Like a balloon, they’ll explode. Whether it’s the shootings at Virginia Tech that left 33 people dead, or the two bullied teenagers that opened fire and killed 12 fellow students and a teacher before taking their own lives.at Columbine High School, or Timothy McVeigh bombing the federal building in Oklahoma City killing 186 people in retaliation for perceived government mishandling of Waco or recent suicides among teens and our armed forces, our kids are losing it. The greater the stress and strain, the more violent behavior becomes. Breathe.
These events are part of the cautionary tales we tell each other. So, what is the lesson? People are fragile? We can only take so much or we’ll pop? Like a balloon, we need to let some air out. Exhale. Regardless of who we are mad at, whatever our problem is, perceived or real, we need to vent some way. If we have a constructive outlet, then society doesn’t get blown away when we snap. We need to find healthy outlets for all the pressure and we need to teach our kids to do the same. Our kids are dealing with the stresses of growing up…peer pressure, not getting the girl, not being cool, or cool enough, or being too cool, being bullied, being teased or embarrassed…all the things we all dealt with in one way or another, but combine that with parents that are stressed out and consumed with their own pressures…add unlimited access to the internet and exposure to violence at every turn…video games, TV shows, news. It can be overwhelming for them and they are overloaded. Teens that feel out of control and isolated, turn to anything and any one that makes them feel more powerful…weapons, gangs, sex, drugs, violence. Every parent’s nightmare. O.k., breathe.
Take a run. Talk to someone. Breathe. Start journaling. Start knitting. Breathe. Get advice. Get help. Breathe. If it is not working, do something else. Try something else. Breathe. Remember that tomorrow is another day and that things can always change – you will be o.k. People that find themselves in despair feel isolated, helpless and trapped. They don’t have a support network they trust. So, MAMAs, find someone you trust and make sure your kids have someone they trust, too – you? A counselor? A coach? A teacher? A friend? No one can keep it all locked up inside, so encourage talking it out…sit down to dinner together every night, talk to the kids about their day, their ups and downs and maybe even have a laugh. Helping them sort through their issues, might even help us decompress from ours…and sharing a smile, a giggle and/or whenever possible, a big belly laugh really helps. We all need to let it out…just let it all out…before we POP!