I hear this phrase often from parents of teens in my office and even outside of work with friends with teen-aged children. It’s what is said when the teen is complaining about how hard it is to manage their responsibilities. It’s sometimes hard to hear because I personally feel as though the teen’s emotions are being disregarded. Although this is a true statement as teens are straddling the fence with childhood and adulthood, helping them navigate this thing called “life” is important.
Adults have the experience to say “that’s life” to each other and navigate their path with adaptive skills to get through the difficulty they are experiencing. Many of us have some maladaptive skills and our children pick up on this. Teens in my office hear that statement and say that their parents don’t understand, or listen, or even more, don’t care. In another blog I shared how parents can be helpful with teaching positive coping skills and without these adaptive skills. I have seen cutting, a form of self mutilating to cope with deep and difficult feelings. Others smoke marijuana, take their friends drugs, sleep to avoid the issue, or begin drinking at an early age. All of these are coping skills, but they are maladaptive.
With that phrase “that’s life”, a teen may feel left to their own devices to find a way to cope. Being a mom of two teens myself, and listening to the things my adolescent clients share, with social media and continuous peer pressure, helping our teens learn healthy coping skills can help them focus on the things that are important in life. I hope this encourages others see to a different perspective when someone is complaining about the difficulties of life. The key is focus on what they are truly complaining about. Their feelings are hurt and they need someone to help. If they are sharing with you, they are asking you for help, or to just listen.