Our crowdfunding campaign has now closed. We raised an amazing £8,500! We are now busy setting up the project to launch as soon as possible. You can keep up to date by following Whatever Together on Twitter (@whatevertogeth1) or Instagram (@whatevertogeth1) or Facebook (@WhateverTogetherCommunity).
No stage of parenting is easy. Each age brings its unique challenges. Parenting is a journey packed with torrential emotions, sudden surprises, gnawing worries, and lashings of daily self-doubt. We never really know if we’ve got it right. There is simply no single ‘right’ to be ‘got’.
If we are lucky, we are surrounded by people we can turn to for reassurance. And safe people to lean on when the burden is getting us down.
When children are very little, that community often helps carry us through. There are the NCT chums and the pre-children friends who have grown families at the same time. And the Nursery or school gate pals that you are thrown together with at all those birthday parties. Not to mention the Facebook groups of other local mums and dads ready to give advice or point you in the right direction.
But when the teenage years arrive – at exactly the point where the challenges of parenting can really shift gear – a lot of that support falls away.
The teenage years can be really tough
Living with a teenager (even an easy one!) is an emotional rollercoaster. There’s the stress of exams, peer pressure and hormones. The painful ups and downs of friendships and fears about fitting in. Endless arguments over phones, curfews and untidy bedrooms. Plus tears, sulks and tantrums over pretty much everything else!
And, for some, there are really tough challenges. Like low self esteem, depression and anxiety, alcohol, drugs, crime, bullying – for some teens and their parents these are especially difficult times.
Yet parents of teenagers are frequently reluctant to disclose to friends just how much they (or their teens) are struggling. From the outside, it can seem like everyone else is doing fine. That it’s just your particular teenager who is being difficult or choosing a rocky road. We feel like failures, that we should have got it right by now. So we don’t let on how tough things are. After all, who wants to broadcast to the world that their teenager is skipping school or smoking weed or just hasn’t spoken more than a grunt to them in weeks? Or that they are regularly being reduced to tears by their teen’s torrential outbursts and name-calling….
As a parenting coach, I have witnessed firsthand the relief that parents experience when they feel safe to talk about what is really going on with their teenager (not the glossy version you might see on social media). The sense of hope that comes with realising that their teenager’s behaviour (however extreme) is not unique. That it will get better. The renewed strength after you share a moment of understanding (with someone who truly gets it) about the awful powerlessness and hurt of parenting a struggling teen through the painful adolescent years.
Whatever Together is the answer
I want more parents to have that moment of understanding and support. That’s why I have joined forces with digital mental health specialist Nicky Runeckles to found Whatever Together.
Whatever Together will be an online community where parents can connect anonymously to share the stress and worries of parenting a teenager. Where they can find the resilience and reassurance to keep going. A place parents can talk to people who really understand. Other parents who have been there and done that, who have experienced the same challenges or who are going through the same things.
There’ll be no blaming or shaming, no FFS-ing or being told it’s your fault. Whatever Together will be a safe moderated space to offload and share experiences. So parents can get advice, feel less alone and more able to cope through the challenging teenage years.
Our crowdfunding campaign
On 20th February 2020, we launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise the seed funding to develop an online platform to make Whatever Together happen. We need £10,500 to get an online community up and running. That will meet the costs of buying and adapting software, launching and maintaining the platform, awareness-raising to encourage parents to join the community and managing and moderating the forum. (We are giving our time for free.)
If this project strikes a chord with you, please help us build Whatever Together. Most of all, we need financial support. Whether it is £10 or £1000, every single pledge will take us one step closer to making this amazing project happen. And there are some great rewards on offer in return for your funding pledges!
You can also help by spreading the word. The more people know about the campaign, the more likely we are to reach our funding target. Please:
- Share our crowdfunding page and video on your social media
- Follow Whatever Together on Twitter (@whatevertogeth1) or Instagram (@whatevertogeth1) or Facebook (@WhateverTogetherCommunity). Like, share and comment so other people can find us too!
- Tell all your friends about the campaign. Are you in the PTA? A local Facebook group for parents? A parents’ WhatsApp group?
Remember, even if they don’t donate, there might be someone you share this with for whom Whatever Together will make a huge difference once it’s up and running. Please make sure they know about us.