Teens Do the Darndest Things

January 10, 2012 at 6:46 am | Posted in Life and Living | 1 Comment
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When I was working at my last job, I had a very high profile client who was launching a campaign geared towards parents of teenagers.  The goal was to encourage parents to have open and honest conversation with their children about sex and relationships.  At the time, I was thrilled to work on this project as it was something I believed was really important seeing as the majority of my lessons on this topic were learned through Cosmo magazine, friends, and awkward early experiences.  I could easily flash back to my teenage years and think, “I wish my parents would have told me that.”

At the time that I was working on this project, there were no children, let alone teenagers, in my life.  I had gone from babysitting a wide age range of children for 6 years to college and the years following college where there was not an adolescent in sight.  So while I remember what it was like for me, I had no one to show me what it’s like in this day and age to be an adolescent.

Fast forward to present day.  Beyond the babies that are popping up seemingly everywhere, there are some teens in my life today that I can influence, even without being a parent.  So when I get caught up in conversations with other adults about the teens we know and their activities and how we respond, I can see so clearly how difficult it is to communicate effectively and be the person they need you to be.  Adults just don’t agree on how to manage teen issues or how they should treat teens.  What is the appropriate response, particularly when a teen wants to know about your life as a teen?  What should we be asking teens on a daily basis to make them feel like valued members of society and not youngin’s that know nothing?  How do we teach them right from wrong without telling them what not to do?

It’s a delicate balance, and I’m happy to have this experience now while I am still young.  Because although times have changed, so much of the learning process has to stayed the same, even though many of the questions I had came a few years later than they may come now.  I think the most important thing is to remember how it was when you were there, which is easier to do when you are still young.  But if you can keep the memories alive, you can more easily put yourself in the teen’s shoes so they truly believe that you understand, that you are there to help and not to pry, that you are to be trusted and that your opinion really matters when it comes to the tough decisions teens have to make.

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  1. My step-sisters are all 10+ years younger than me, the youngest is still in high school. She may come in handy in another 10 years when I have to deal with my own teens. I considered myself “of a teen mind” until about 24, when I suddenly saw a gap between this working life and being in school, a realization that I didn’t know as much as I thought I did, and allowing myself to ask for help if needed. Teens now are different than when I was their age, just check out YouTube instructional videos, most are very young (and bright) people 🙂

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