Everyone gives lip service to New Year’s resolutions. I was talking recently with college stress expert Maria Pascucci, founder of CampusCalm.com, and she made a comment that has lingered with me. She says our teens learned to be stressed-out from, ahem, us - their well-intentioned parents who want only the best for our beloved children. But that constant pressure to get good grades, get into a good college, and succeed at all costs makes kids believe that self-worth is measured by GPA. They focus on their deficiencies, and never stop to enjoy their successes. It's always about what comes next, never what is. “We’ve been raised to believe," Pascucci says, "that every achievement we earn is simply a stepping stone to the next level of success. We chase the gold stars and buy into myths.”
Kids learn to manage stress by observing their workaholic parents - who work 24/7 and never take a break. “Or if you do take a break," she says, "you feel guilty about it. Kids look to parents for cues on how to balance work and fun. Show them that you love yourselves enough to make time for self-care.”
So when you're making New Year’s resolutions this year and fretting about your grown kids' stress levels, try modeling some of those healthy habits yourself. Get enough exercise. Eat healthfully. Sleep enough. And, in Pascucci’s words, “ditch the inner perfectionist.” Balance work and play. Go have fun with your college kids over winter break - and make sure they know that you know, they're so much more than a GPA.