I have to confess that I have not had a very positive experience with teenagers. I’ve felt that, even in my own family, teens existed just to mess with me. Two of my sisters were extremely unbecoming in their behaviour and my children, in their twenties, have only just awoken to the real World of self-awareness and accountability. I finally feel excited and relieved for my children, instead of anxious and fearful for them.
I don’t think any parent should couch today’s teen behaviour by saying that their world is more complicated and dangerous. The truth is it is not and most teens are jerks. Selfish, unaware, narcissistic and normal. It’s amazing that they survive at all.
In past 12 months I uncharacteristically took on the internship of three teens from a local high school. It was difficult, like herding wet cats ~ and, I’ve mentioned before that it was the most amazing creative thing I’ve been part of for a long time.
Following their “graduation” from my costume business, FeeFiFoFun, and on a whim, one of them started a new blog. Within the month the blog had almost eight thousand followers. One month. Most companies would kill for those stats.
I thought long and hard about whether to reveal the name and location of this blog. It’s just so incredible, I wanted to share it with the world. I’ve decided, however, that disclosing it would ruin it. You see, it’s an advice blog. Advice given by teens to teens unmediated by meddlesome adults. Imagine the horror of that you are thinking.
A dear friend of mine suffered greatly when a teen acquaintance of her son took his own life. One night at dinner with too much wine, she raged that this teen’s school, the counselors, the government hadn’t done enough to help this teen’s suffering.
I begged her to differ. I’d seen first hand how much is out there to support teens and their parents. Frankly it’s staggering how much of our tax dollars and private fundraising goes into these efforts.
I can’t blame my friend for not knowing. I’m actually grateful that she is naive about such things, meaning that her experience was a flicker of anguish compared to a family who lives every day with the cold inferno of a suicidal or mentally deranged teen. I guess we both feel helpless.
I genuinely believe in holding out a hand to other humans, but my age and experience humbly reminds me that we adults are not all that. All the anti-bullying campaigns, stranger danger talks, STD pamphlets, karate lessons for girls, bright posters in the hall, waving rainbow flags in the gym makes me cringe because they are purveyed by adults.
I know kids who feel all this brouhaha is not helpful, but actually inflames the very things they are trying to avoid, live through, solve. Like shining a hot giant spotlight on their acne laden hormonally charged uncertain sexually ambivalent shoulders when they are just about to sneak into class late.
I’m not saying that adults should give up trying, but maybe we are putting too much of our own teen angst onto our kid’s backs. Hanging on too damn tight in our efforts to spare our children from all this terrible beauty.
Do you remember what it was like to be a teen? Maybe you did what adults asked of you, but who did you spent time talking with, watching or listening to? Whose taunts hurt the most. Whose attention did you crave? Your peers. If that’s not telling enough, check these stats.
This blog had over one thousand requests for advice in it’s first two weeks. Subjects ranged from menstruation, A cups, getting into college, cutting, how-to handle parents and being transgender. I noted consistently [and surprisingly] that good advice was rendered simply, lovingly and in the language of incredible teens.
My hand hovered over Ask key on this blog. Should I ask a question? Should I give kudos? No. Like the parent who is lucky enough to glimpse into their child’s world without being made out, I will not let myself be seen. I will hold back my worry. Just be the fly on the wall. Listen. Learn to see a child[ren] holding their own. A child[ren] making their way into the adult world. A child[ren] making us proud.
ps the lesson for companies who want a strong following, have a product or a service that people actually need