You’re always hearing those words, “You just don’t understand!” And then you, the parent, will say in return, “In my day…” or “I remember when…”
How many of you have done this? I know I have. However, I have come to learn that although we have some similarities, there are some very large contrasts when it comes to comparing our teen years.
So, where are we when it comes to similarities? To name a few; Alcoholism, drugs, abuse, bullying, sexual promiscuity and suicide are topics that very much has crossed the borders in both of our generations. What is vastly different between the two dimensions are the societal changes and behavior from back then to today.
Being bullied at school when I was growing up was in most cases a male teen showing off his pecks and trying to be the tough one and never looking weak. It was also a way to fight against fears by pushing away the very things that were foreign and not normal to them. You were also face to face with that person pumping those fists, saying what was on your mind to show off too. It was almost a passing of change into manhood and although it wasn’t acceptable, it was somewhat more excusable in that generation. No one was really looking to kill anyone, just rough them up a little. There was for the most part a line drawn even in the worst scenarios.
Today is a completely different era. Being bullied has a new meaning with violence and aggression like never seen before. Instead of face to face, you have cyber-bullying. Instead of mean words, you have lives threatened. Instead of facing your fears and dealing with that bullying, some chose to end their life so that they don’t have to deal with it anymore.
Bullying isn’t the only issue. Alcohol and drugs are more accessible. Abuse (physical or emotional) used to be such a secret and now you see it everywhere, even to the point where some teens think it is permissible in the right circumstances. Yes, our society has changed, but for our teens it is not for the better.
The societal moral standards have been lowering and slipping away, slowly, across the nation and beyond. Why then do we doubt how bad things are with the teens in this country? And why do we continue to NOT listen to them when they are saying we don’t understand, because we don’t.
If you have a teenager, sit down with them and talk about this. You need to hear firsthand how bad it really is and find out how they are handling it. That is the first pro-active thing you can do as a parent. Secondly, the most important words your teen doesn’t need to hear, “Well, back in my day…” because they will lose the best support they could ever have if you do, and that is YOU!