Friday, November 20, 2015

In Defense of Teens

Photo Credit: Diverbo Idiomas


A common refrain throughout the ages is, "Kids these days." We are constantly concerned for the future because we doubt the ability of these kids. For those of you that feel this way, let me assure you that your fears are in vain. I work with teens professionally and personally, so I see a lot of them. These stories are what I have seen in the last two days.

Our church is packing a bunch of Operation Christmas Child boxes. Our teens were not only prepared to help sort and pack the hundreds of items collected this year into shoe boxes, they were also prepared to help teach the younger kids how to do it. My son came home telling me about the youth that he chose to help him. He told me a few more times about that youth as well. He was proud of himself and his 'friend' who helped him out. Ben and I were discussing it later and he mentioned that youth and a couple more who watch over him and make sure he knows how to do various things, that he knows where to be at what time, and that play with him. These youth watch out for the little ones and help them out. Watching out for the next generation and teaching them the right things to do sounds like a pretty good quality

We went to our local community college which is the home of our early college high school. The students were waiting on their bus as I was walking through the quad with my kids. A few of my former students called to me and we discussed their current school life and such. That was encouraging for me, but not the heart of the story. My son wasn't interested in the conversation. He wanted to find a wall, so he could play with his wrestling figures. He walked about 10 feet in front of me. There were several other teens gathered around the short wall that surrounded a tower in the center of the quad. He places himself between a few of them, introduced himself, and then narrated for them the match his figurines were performing. They asked him questions and feigned understanding of the match. They were interested in him and who he was even if they weren't interested in the topic of his conversation. They were conversing with him even though they had only met him a few moments before. Talking amiably with people of all ages about a range of topics sounds like a pretty good quality.  

After our visit to the local community college and a family dinner, we returned to my workplace for a womanless pageant. The money raised for this goes to a local battered women's shelter. There were a dozen young men who put on dresses, make-up, jewelry, and high heels. They strutted their stuff, shared their talent, and interviewed well in the name of protecting women. They donated their time, put aside their pride, and never doubted their masculinity. Those are generally things that can cause young men and old men some concern. There was no concern amongst these young men. They were putting themselves aside to do good for other people. Less self, more others sounds like a pretty good quality.

So there is no need to fear for the future. Our teens are good people. They might make some stupid decisions sometimes, but so do we. They might get lazy sometimes, but so do we. They might get an attitude from time to time, but so do we. Let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Teens are people and they are pretty good people. We will be okay.

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