Day 107 Question 107:
What do you think of youth in today’s society?
So yesterday my sister called me when I was on my way to the gym. She told me she had some news about my old high school in NY. A couple that my sister went to high school with had a daughter together (the couple didn’t stay together) and on Sunday night this 16 year old girl committed suicide. My sister didn’t know the details but to her understanding the young girl had attempted suicide before (I am not sure how many times). My sister and I talked for quite a while and both of us have had our bouts with bad anxiety but we both agreed that suicide had never been an option….not even during the hardest times of it. I said to her, “What could be going through the mind of a 16 year old girl for her to take her own life?” I would be almost certain that an investigation will be done to make sure that any form of bullying was not part of the cause.
I started to think about youth today and all that they face. I started to think back to when I taught Teen Outreach Program classes (7-12th graders) and how different those kids seemed to be from the way me and my classmates were. I could be in complete denial though and when you are those ages you really have no idea how you are acting. This is not a pity party for the youth of today. This is me believing the capabilities that these young people have…..the thing is….a lot of them don’t know what gifts they have. It takes a long time for the human brain to fully mature. It is rare to find a middle or high school student that acts completely mature….even the smartest kid in the class doesn’t always exhibit the best social skills. Youth are awkward because they are changing. They are unsure who to follow….hell I am 33 and I am still unsure of exactly what I think and feel about everything. I never thought I would want to work with youth (especially the middle school age youth) because I always found them to be defiant, rude and they just never seemed to absorb anything. I then realized that this was the age group that needed the most support and the most mentoring. I thought about who and how I was at those ages and I would have done anything to have had some positive role models in my life to guide me in finding my passions and to make me truly believe that looks and weight do not make me who I am.
I think the youth of today face many challenges and with the rapid advancement in technology and the media harassing us and telling us how we have to look and act there will be difficulties…..but I have a lot of HOPE!!! Our youth are our future leaders and although they may be snarky, they really have a lot of drive. I could say they are lazy because of all of the technology but so are a lot of adults! The youth have a crazy amount of potential….they just need a push. I truly belief that in your tween/teen years you are molded in a big way and your self-esteem is in overdrive….whether your outlook be positive or negative. At these ages kids need to hear the truth and I will always support in your face learning but they also need reassurance and they need to know all that is good about them….because they may never know.
I have 2 nephews (9 and 11) and they are like night and day. The 11 year old is a determined, born leader and the 9 year old is a free-spirit dreamer. I am sure you can guess which one gives my sister and brother in law a run for their money ;0) Although they are different they both have these amazing qualities about them. The 9 year old may not be able to focus all of the time but he has this natural curiosity about him. I don’t get to see them often at all because 1000 miles lie between us :0( The last time I did though was Easter of 2010. I remember sitting in the computer room of my parent’s house. We had the pull out couch pulled out and him and I were sitting on the bed (mind you he would have only been 7..almost 8 at that time) and I just started to talk to him. I asked him questions about his life and I asked him about his interests and what made him happy. We talked for about 25 minutes with no interruptions and one would have never even realized there was a 24 year age gap between the 2 of us. I got down to his level and showed interest in him and he loved it. He is a kid that needs extra attention and love….he has the sensitive gene that runs in our family. He is so lucky to have the big family that he does with so many cousins and aunts and uncles around (even though at times he loves to just do things by himself) because some kids don’t have that at all. Other kids don’t have the love that they deserve at home…they are treated like a piece of furniture….they exist but don’t serve much of a purpose. ALL KIDS MATTER….ALLL YOUTH MATTER!!!
My other nephew, the 11 year old, is a beautiful child. I tell my sister and my mother all of the time that I hope he holds onto the qualities that he has for the rest of his life. This kid is so driven and so passionate. He plays baseball and he was elected president of his school homeroom, he is a Boy Scout and plans to continue until he is an Eagle Scout. Being his age and working his way through middle school and into high school, he could easily start having a big head but this kid is so grounded. This kid has such a good head on his shoulders. This kid cares so much for other people and he would give the shirt of his back if a friend was in a bind. This kid will be a success in life….I don’t have a doubt in my mind. He may succeed financially but that will be insignificant because his modesty will always shine. I don’t say these words simply because I am biased either. I can spot a natural born leader from a mile away….no matter age, color or status.
It would be easy to say that youth are doomed. It would be easy to say that youth are just a bunch of lazy kids that feel entitled to everything. It would be easy to just brush this age group under the rug and wait to deal with them again when they are adults. I don’t see it that way though. I can’t lie and say that some youth haven’t driven me up the wall and their sense of entitlement has made me want to scream and shake that whole attitude out of them….but that would be too easy and would solve nothing. I ache to work with youth. I ache to talk to groups of young girls and tell them how beautiful they are and find out their strengths. I ache to be a part of these young people pursuing dreams that they never thought possible. I ache to be a mentor and a role model to a kid(s) that thought they were unimportant and realized what gifts they really hold within themselves.
I was unsure of what direction this blog entry was going to go when I started writing it. I am saddened that a young girl took her own life and was unable to receive the guidance she needed (not blaming anyone…people may have not even known). The world can be a scary place that can swallow you up and as a youth/teen it can be extremely difficult. Kids are cruel and bullying has ran far too rampant. We, as adults, have a responsibility to set good examples. Talking about bullying and talking about sex is never going to be comfortable or our favorite subject to talk about with youth (knowing they are going to squirm and roll their eyes) but it is necessary. We don’t live in a world of saints. As adults we don’t need to spill our life story to kids/teens but why not show them they we are human???? As adults we can motivate and we can encourage. We can show kids the world….even if it is through a computer screen or by artifacts from our past. There is no simple solution to make kids act in a certain way but we all have the opportunity to be a big part of their lives during this significant period of growing up…even when we just want them to go away because of their sassy mouths and bad attitudes. I speak as if I am a parent and I am not but it does not lessen my love for people at all. I want everyone…big and small…to experience the deepest level of happiness possible with pain being minimal. Pain is inevitable and heartache is inevitable but there are a million opportunities to prevent these things….just by offering kindness instead of ridicule. We should never crush a child’s dream or force them into anything….why make a mold of ourself when we can help shape a completely unique individual.
I hope my words have tugged a little bit at your heart strings…especially if you have children in this age range. I hope you take the time to tell them you love them every day and remind them of all of the special things about themselves….because even though they may not act like it….they need it. :0)
Loved the picture at teh top and have no problem with teh youths of today …
Thank you for this. I know you love those boys as their father and I do. They each possess qualities that make them unique and terrific in their own way.
In Todays world , people are getting more and more separated from their real life and getting busy in virtual life . which leads to lonelyness and is one of the cause or suicide 😦
Diane, I feel this is your most wonderful post! Yes, it tugged a few heart-strings…on this, the last day of my 65th year. I have observed many children in those years (my own two sons have passed) who are left on their own by what some call ‘parents’…I call them ‘abusers’.
Thank you for this post…at half my age, you possess much wisdom!
I am SO glad my own children are in their middle and late thirties by now–and that my grandchildren are about 10 years from being teenagers! This particular era is so difficult for teenagers! We need to love them and support them and let them know we cherish them at every possible opportunity. We need to always set ethical and compassionate examples for them!
Thank you for your blog post.. wise, insightful and encouraging.
Your insight and compassion continue to be an inspiration to me. I am 32, single, and I find my daddy instincts kicking into high gear when I note the young students who walk by my apartment in midtown Manhattan. There is such potential in each individual. With the advent of technological advancement, it may seem that the youth of today are unreachable. But I would argue that this is not so. We just need to understand what is going on from our own end as adults before we make snap judgments.
I would have appreciated that as a kid.
Thanks for your words.
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today’s youth is in trouble – but not yet. in about 20 years, someone’s going to look back and realize how much we’ve coddled them, made excuses for them, forgave them, cleaned up after them, cleaned up before them, and basically taken them off the hook for everything they should be doing, should be learning to do, but we’re not teaching them.
So true. Once we turned 18 we were on our own, including health and auto insurance. No parent supplied insurance until we were 26.
Today’s youth is exactly the same as we were at our time… maybe a bit more pragmatic and much more well informed.
Every generation have the nostalgia as well as shame about the past and fear & lack of confidence about the future… its a reflection upon that generation only, we are all human with our own dreams, fears, anxieties and expectations.
I also believe young people today are the same as young people in the past. I was no angel. My friends and I were banned from the train to school for a period of time because we were too naughty so I have no misconceptions that I was better than today. In fact, I’ve never seen young people behave as badly as we did on our train journeys 😉 … And I’ve grown up to be a decent law-abiding citizen.
I think young people today have more pressure than ever before. There’s bad news in the media 24/7. Mass media tells us that young people today are bad so the young people have to defend themselves against more than just their immediate surrounds. And they are constantly told the world is going downhill so maybe there’s no future for them. We were told some of those things too – but not on the scale that it occurs today.
It’s sad really that we treat our future so poorly 😦 I’m only 33 years old but know that it will be young people who look after me when I’m elderly and who will find solutions to the mess older generations have made of the world.
You found/know the secret to a kid. It is listen. So many kids are simply talked at, scolded, nagged all of which they may deserve, but does anyone tell them about their special gifts and ever ask them, “What makes you happy?” then shuts up and LISTENS. This is not lecture time and if the child can’t come up with anything it’s okay. Try again. It’s communication.