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Time to Love Our Teens

Earlier in the month I read a fascinating article entitled, ‘We just want to be able to talk to our parents’, by Stefanie Marsh in the Guardian. Here’s the link if you’d like to read it in full:

The quote that really struck a chord with me was from 17 year old Maleo Manning who started her politics blog, Libdemchild, when she was 10. She answered a question regarding the alleged mismatch between adult perception and teenage reality by saying she thought it had something to do with “an air of hatred of teenagers. Even millennials judge us to be complacent layabouts who don’t work hard.”

In the same article, this is backed up by 19 year old Toni McMillan, who has set up her own online campaign fighting for equal work opportunities for teenagers. She says some employers think young people are a nuisance or a liability. “Most of us just want a chance to prove what we can do.”

What is wrong with us, that our teens feel so strongly that they are not being given that chance that they have to start a campaign?

I was horrified in 2005 when it was suddenly deemed acceptable to install a device outside a shop that emitted a high pitched signal that we oldies couldn’t hear, but which was unbearable to teenagers, in order to force them to disperse and refrain from hanging around in groups on the street corner.

Like wire spikes to keep pigeons away. This in the wake of the demonisation of hoodies - what kind of a message was that sending out? No wonder youngsters can feel the need to retreat into gang culture and social media, we are sending a signal that is far more than the “tut-tutting” of previous older generations, and the kids know it.

I love young people, I expect a lot of them and they mostly exceed my expectations. I enjoy communicating with them and they enlighten me as much as I try to support them. It saddens me greatly that we are allowing a generation to feel unwanted, unloved, undervalued and undermined.

Your children look up to you in deeper and more profound ways than you could ever imagine, they learn how to be from the adults they grow up with. Surely it’s time to spread the love and not teach them to distance their own youngsters when they are ready to nurture the next generation.

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