Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Obsession VS Passion: A Teen's Love For A Boy Band

A parent writes:

 I have two girls ages 13 and 11 (5th and 8th grade)  I need help! Our older daughter who is a straight A student, has lots of friends, can be a bit shy and is in general a good kid.  She has developed an obsession with the boy band One Direction.  I feel like it is starting to get out of control.  It is all she talks about, she stalks their twitter feeds, is canceling plans to to go to "Harry Style's Birthday Party" that another friend is throwing this weekend, blast the music, watched all their You Tube videos, spends all of her money on Teen Beat Magazines and such, etc. etc.  I am trying really hard to tell myself that this is a phase and it will pass.  My husband is starting to lose his mind with it.  It is all she talks about.  When we try to have a normal conversation at dinner all she does it talk about One Direction.  Some of her friends are into it too and others are not.  She has met some other nice girls that are probably just as obsessed with it as she is but when you are living with this, it starts to drive you crazy!  My question for you is not only what should we do but how long do these stages last?  We've had numerous conversations with her that we appreciate her interest but that we don't share the same interest and would like to have more intellectually stimulating conversations.  We have always had a rule in our house about moderation and I am famous for saying, "everything in moderation>'  I have told her that she is going overboard and she is making herself look like a fool to some of her friends who are not as interested.  I feel very lucky that she is a good student, good friend, a leader of our household but I worry that this obsession is taking over and chaining who she is.  Of course I could have bigger problems but I  just don't know what to do, please let me know if you have any tips.  
Joani's Advice:

My first job was to go to youtube and find out who the hell is One Direction. My playlist does not include this group of cuties! But boy, I totally get young teenagers obsession with this group. When I was in 7th grade, it was The Beatles. I know, The Beatles!!!!! I am really old. But if you look back at the old footage of teenage girls and the level of decibels that occurred with the screaming girls, it doesn't feel that different. Maybe for you Gen X's it was New Kids On The Block. Every generation has their heartthrob boy band. I loved (love) The Beatles, don't get me wrong, but it wasn't in my personality style to get all obsessed.  When I was a child, I didn't have a favorite stuffed animal or doll I was obsessed with, just not my nature.  But my best friend Marlene, (still my best friend) she was a different story. Her obsession with The Beatles during our junior high school years was legendary. Her Beatle haircut, with the full bangs, ode to Paul McCartney, her black Beatle boots, her room covered from top to bottom with pictures from teen mags, a collection of every single released, her collection was comprehensive, and hours and hours and hours of conversations about who was the cutest (Paul) who was the hottest (George), who was the coolest (John) who was the kookiest (Ringo). Besides talking about the boys at school, talking about our British boys took up the rest of our gab time.

I totally understand this mom's worry, its unsettling to see your child have such a singular obsession, especially when it is not in your nature. But here's the good news. It doesn't last forever, it doesn't seem to be interfering with school work, and  I'm guessing when she hits high school, the whole issue will be gone and forgotten. It is certainly OK to say to your One Direction uber fan; " I get how much you love this group, it shows just how much passion you have in you, and that is a really wonderful quality. I totally get you want to share your enthusiasm with the family, but since they are not really an interest of mine, lets make a 5 minute rule. I promise I will listen for 5 minutes at a time with all ears, and then I will say, thank you for the update, and that will be a sign I'm full up on One Direction.

Let me tell you about my best friend Marlene now. Her capacity for feeling passion and excitement is still so much of who she is. Just ask her family, her students, and her friends who benefit from her single minded loyalty and love she shows them all, just like she did for The Beatles. Her enthusiasm for a good book, a good movie, or a good TV show is contagious. Just like her enthusiasm for The Beatles was. When you have a teen who looks obsessed, try re framing, and see the capacity they have for passion and enthusiasm. This will serve them so well as they move into adulthood. It maybe One Direction now, but later in life it will probably be lifelong friendships, family, a fulfilling career, and a the future family that will be the recipients of all this love. This will not last forever, I promise. Just ask Marlene, her enthusiasm for life and love started with those Beatles, and it is a part of her I am glad she shares with all of us.
Dedicated to my best friend Marlene! May we all share just 1/10th of the passion she has for life!

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