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Why I Am Banning The Word “Awkward” With My Teens This School Year

Living with a 13, 14 and 15-year-old has made me despise the word “awkward.”

This word has become synonymous in my home for, “Don’t make me do something that will make me feel uncomfortable and might make me standout a little too much so others notice. I don’t want to be embarrassed and will avoid it at any cost. As a matter of fact, could you please, please, please not do anything that might humiliate me in front of any other living thing?”

My husband and I are so tired of hearing this plea that we have decided to nix it from our home.

Why We're Banning The Word "Awkward" With Our Teens

The trouble is that the very essence of adolescence is awkward. They think this word keeps them safe, but I would say instead that it makes them hide. They aren’t allowed to do anything extraordinary because they might shine too brightly.

Because, you know, that would be “awkward.”

This word has caused a deep groan in my gut. I tried to tell them that a famous youth pastor says, “Awkward is awesome.” They told me that was stupid.

I get what they are really saying. They worry us adults don’t understand how hard it is to make sure others don’t make fun of them or think they are stupid. Insecurity is a monster, constantly nipping at their heels.

  • Their bodies are changing too fast or too slowly.
  • They aren’t sure if their personality is what it should be and they have forgotten to celebrate the image they see in the mirror.
  • All of a sudden confident kids decide they are hideous and courageous ones are afraid of their own shadows.

Truth: "Awkward" Never Really Goes Away

As a parent, I wish I had all the answers. All I’ve been able to tell my kids is, “This feeling never goes away; we just get better at dealing with it.”

I’d like to say that if they can get through this stage, it will get better. However, as an adult I still feel awkward. I still wonder what others think of me. I still have moments when I do something that makes me feel small. I would love to say my confidence bounced back or that I stopped caring what people thought of me after the teen years were done. Truth is, I still struggle. The difference is that now I am comfortable in my own skin and I have come to love who God made me to be. I have come to terms with the reality that sometimes I will not be perfect, and that’s actually alright.

A New School Year Is A Great Time For Teens To Step Out Their Comfort Zones

So we decided to eliminate this word from our home for a couple of months and see what would happen. It isn’t so much the actual word as the heart behind it we have disallowed in our home. A new school year is a time for stepping outside your comfort zone. It’s time to learn how deal with the other side of awkward, which is not missing out on something wonderful just because of some discomfort.

Obviously we have had to be sensitive and not push too hard. We haven’t asked them to be anything different than who they are or take risks that are extreme. Yet, when the only thing holding them back from a new adventure is because it is uncomfortable, we’ve asked them to jump in anyway.

What word do you need to eliminate from your home at the start of this school year? 

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