It is back-toschool season in full swing! While some children are thrilled to be back at school, older kids might not be as excited. This is a quick warning sign that things may not be as bright as they seem. You may hear your teen, tween, or even teen talk about a “back to school necklace.” It sounds cute and innocent. Be aware that Target’s jewelry aisle may not be as black and white as it appears. This euphemism is used to describe the stress associated with returning to school. It also includes some dark imagery. Ask your teen to try on their “perfect for school” 15th-16th-year-old jeans. You may also want to inquire about their thoughts regarding a back-toschool necklace. Prepare for heavier conversations than you might anticipate.
When you hear the words back to school necklace, chances are you immediately think about one of those cute little cards with matching necklaces, bracelets, or chains that remind your child that they are also wearing one. It is truly heartwarming. So innocent. Gen Z, however, is far more complex than that. These people are probably calling us “cheugy” because they even consider these things.
What is a Back-to-School Necklace?
A “back–to-school necklace” is a dark expression of the dread of going back to school and all the pressures that go with it. This is the literal equivalent of a necktie. Seem alarmist? Do you think this is something Boomers should be worried about? Don’t think so. Urban Dictionary is even on board with this dreadful trend. The back-to-school necklace is “another name to a noose.” This is because of the overwhelming despair that you feel when school gets back up.
Is the “back to school necklace” really so worrying?
Anytime someone has an idea to commit suicide or self-harm, it is worth contacting a mental health professional. You can start a conversation if your teen, tween, or child uses the term “back–to-school necklace”.
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Gen Z is dark, deep, and a lot of people are like them. They’ve lived in war zones for almost their entire lives. They’ve seen numerous school shootings (and sometimes an inept response from the adults or lawmakers). They’ve seen images of police brutality, civil unrest, and the current dumpster fire on our planet. A more objective person might claim that things have never been this bad but it is clear that Gen Z’ers have been more exposed to it through social media. You cannot just turn off the TV to escape the news, like you did as teenagers. Our world is always connected to the latest news — both the good ones and the bad. The next generation, whether teens or tweens are, is just as keen on the morbid than the previous generations.
A “back to school necklace” could also be interpreted as a sign of dread for many children. This dread should certainly be talked about. But it doesn’t always have to be a cry of help. It could just be the slang they learned from their peers.
How would you discuss back-to-school necklaces
It can be difficult to talk to your child about anything serious. As a “geriatric millennial parent”, you are more likely to feel embarrassed about starting difficult conversations or sounding like an afterschool teacher than a parent. You also know that taking things too seriously can cause your kid to withdraw further. Although it is possible to wait for your kids to discuss the topic, it is best to get in front of them. Don’t be too careful. You can start with a casual “Hello, have you heard of this?” I was intrigued when I came across something online.
You might find your teen or teenage tween answering your question with an empathetic eye roll, and then scoffing, “It’s really not that deep.” For many children, it may not be so deep. You feel that back-toschool dread. You may have felt it not long ago. It’s a dark phrase, but some kids may use it more as an euphemism than a cynical one. For them, it may just be a catchy way to say, “I am not looking ahead to our third-year of French.”
How you talk with your kids will be influenced by your relationship. You could also be more casual if your Gen Z’er is very casual most of the time. If they’re not too picky, you might take them to Starbucks. Then ask: “Is it stressing you out?” In school 100 years ago, I remember feeling so much pressure the first week back. If they indicate they’re feeling it too, you can channel your inner-mom-from-an-after-school-special and say, “School can suck; I’m sorry. You can unload on my stress if it’s not too much. If you find it natural, then you can bring up the phrase “back-toschool necklace” during your convo.