Musings of a savvy teenager…
What a day… I met for the first time, a young lady who I had been hearing so much about and wanted to bend her ear a bit about what we as parents could learn from teenagers and how they thought at this age… I was floored when miss 15-year-old said………” As Teenagers, we do not understand our parents but the truth is, we know we need guidance and really want it. So much stuff is swirling in our heads all the time and it is always crowded. School is an interesting place because I feel like my peers make stupid choices on purpose.”
This is where I turned on my recorder because I truly did not want to miss a morsel.. goodness, the things I learned!!!
When I asked what it was like to be a teenager in her middle school, she said it was amazing how many teenagers were doing drugs and into sex because of what they see in social media. They think it is cool because TV makes it seem great. To make matters worse she says, parents do not stop the behavior because they choose to live in denial… My mouth dropped… she then said when parents are forced to acknowledge the behaviors of their children, they go about it the wrong way by yelling and screaming. this confuses teens, partly because they never really had any parameters to begin with. She was especially concerned with parents who allowed their kids to do anything as young kids, then got mad when they did more awful things as teens. In short, she says, if you set no parameters, then you should not expect any.. out of the mouth of babes… she thought there HAd to be a better way for parents to handle teens but she doesn’t know what that is because, well, she’s a teenager!! we got a great chuckle from that one..
She went on to say she has not tried drugs or been sexually active but feels it is a rite of passage for teens to experiment. It really depended on the family values at home. That would dictate in large part, what some kids will or won’t try.. She firmly believed being a teenage mother was a crazy concept, so that was not an option for her… I became more intrigued with each passing moment and really began to listen in earnest without forming an opinion because I recognized it was a “gift” to have a teen speak so openly to someone they just met..
I encouraged her to go on.. she began giving me examples of what was happening in school without names.. there are two kids in one of her classes that spoke often of doing marijuana; She finally asked if their parents cared…. the one kid has a horrible home life but says his parents would kill him if they found out, while the other child’s parents were aware and told him as long as he didn’t smoke it in the house or use their monies to purchase it, they were fine. Now, take a deep breath here. I know she is telling the truth because I have experienced this same scenario with parents who just fell and bumped their heads by telling me, all the kids are doing this now and they cannot stop it…sigh… fifteen, is the new 25… These boys are in the bathrooms at home smoking pot and parents are oblivious at least in one case.
I asked her what she thought works best on teens for punishment; She says they all feel pretty badly when their parents say they are disappointed and walk away. That hurts way more, she says, than screaming. Teens may never admit it, but there it is. She says it works like a charm as they discuss it among themselves… well I’ll be. She said if we teach our children to be respectful of others and themselves, it is so much easier to reprimand them as teens… it got really good here….
I almost fell out my chair when she said She hopes to not offend me by saying this, but she believes Black parents do a better job of disciplining their children and teaching them proper manners at a young age. She marvels at how these parents can make their kids listen but feels it is due in large part to the way the family structure is for them culturally… As a caucasian child, she thinks her peers get away with much more and their parents are way too lenient when they are babies. the end result is the teens fussing right back at their parents because they feel they have no right to try to discipline them now when they barely did it before…. well!!! She believes a balance of total respect and fear of parents allows teens to listen when reprimanded but also feel safe enough to share issues in their lives as they arose..
She also gave me the example of another child who abuses the girls in the school is awful and sexist, snorts cocaine and is just awful.. when I asked if teachers were aware, she said yes but felt teachers were conditioned not to react or have an opinion, just to report… A word to the educators.. these kids are really watching…
I thanked Ms. Awesome for being totally candid with me and told her she gave me so much insight into a teen’s mind… We as parents, always want perfect darlings for children but they only become productive adults through our teachings… you literally get, what you put into your children. We are not perfect and will miss the mark in many areas but if we stick with the basics like manners, respect, accountability and kindness to name a few, we will begin to see the fruits of our labor..
I immediately thought of my two sons … made me feel like maybe, just maybe, I was doing the right things after all..