Dr. Jennifer Hartstein was featured in this article, originally posted on The New York Times written by Carrie Goldman.
Alix MacDonald is 17 years old, and the future weighs heavily on her mind. A high school senior in Chicago, she was “stressed a lot” in the fall about “whether or not to apply to college,” especially during a pandemic.
What comforted her was “talking through pros and cons with my mom and dad” — without feeling as if her parents had an agenda. “They didn’t push me,” said Alix, who has both attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and a lesser-known learning difference called slow processing speed, and has long grappled with school-based anxiety. “They asked questions about what I wanted.”
Alix, like young people across the country, is wrestling with feelings of apprehension and uncertainty about what the next year will bring, made all the more intense in the pandemic. For parents, it has become harder to assess if their teenagers are doing OK. “Alix spends a huge amount of time alone in her room,” said her mother, Veronique MacDonald, a real estate broker. “We try to implement something fun to get her to join us.”
In the pandemic, many of the traditional measures that indicate whether a teen is thriving have been rendered irrelevant. Does my child attend school and stay engaged? Is my child participating in team sports or joining activities in our community? Is my child getting enough sleep with these early morning practices? Why is my child always alone?