The youth of today’s world live in vibrant times. Society tells them one thing while their family tells them another, and their peers seem to cover every end of the spectrum. Tolerance is demanded, acceptance is forced upon them, and the line between right and wrong seems to be blurred like never before.
As our kids get older, the goal is to give them more independence, but equipping them to handle that independence responsibly is no easy feat.
I think society as a whole makes generalizations about the teens of today, and for the most part, these are not things that we want our teens buying into about themselves.
Let’s discuss what seem to be the ten most common lies our teens can assume about themselves and their peers based on the world around them.
- All kids are wired with cell phones, tablets, and laptops, and all kids live on social media. Although some do, don’t let your kids buy into the notion that they are “uncool” if you place restrictions on these things or avoid them altogether. They are a nicety, not a requirement.
- Using profanity is an acceptable form of expression. This is one of the societal shifts that has occurred over the past 20 years. Thinking just of the movie industry is a prime example. I remember back in the day when Dirty Dancing was released with a PG-13 rating, which was really pushing the line at the time. I remember my parents being so cautious about letting me see it, and they were not the only ones. I’m not sure that Dirty Dancing would be considered “family friendly” these days, but I don’t think that assumption would be far off by today’s standards. Profanity is much the same in today’s world. Profanity and vulgar language is thrown around without a second thought these days it seems, but it does not have to be considered the norm nor tolerated in the presence of your family. We are very strict on language in our home, which starts with the language we use, or don’t use, as parents.
- Smoking, drinking, drugs – they are all cool. Maybe people don’t use this word anymore, I was a child of the seventies and eighties. At any rate, one step further is the assumption that everyone is doing these things. I remember feeling this to a very minor degree as a teen, but this assumption hasn’t gone anywhere, and perhaps it is even more prevalent. As parents we need to reassure our children that there are plenty of their peers who choose not to partake of these things. Give your teens the courage, the strength, and the tools they need to stand up to these pressures.
- No one saves themselves for marriage anymore. Although society would like us to think this is the case, there are plenty of teens who are not being sexually active. Raising children who are strong in their values and have a secure sense of self esteem are two important components to teens remaining sexually pure. Just like smoking, drinking, and drugs, there are plenty of kids who are not being sexually active. Encourage your children to find friends who share the same set of values.
- Parents are out of touch, old fashioned, and stupid. So often parents are portrayed as this way on television and in movies, but our kids need to be reminded that we as parents are here to guide, train, and lead them in the right way to go. Being intentional with your children is the best way to curb this kind of thinking. Keep up with current trends as best you can, and strive to be the “cool mom” even when it is horribly inconvenient for you.
- Sports are all or nothing these days. Boy it sure does seem that way, but there are plenty of parents who don’t want to buy into this mentality. Trends have changed over the past 20 years or so where it seems everyone is buying into the need that all kids should be raised to be elite athletes. There are plenty of sports and groups that kids can be a part of without having to live and breathe their sport. Sports can still be just for fun.
- Media choices don’t really have an affect on a person. This is just flawed thinking, but I think it is generally the thought of most people – maybe it is a hope? This was something that I reexamined a number of years ago. My choices were not bad according to most, but some of the shows I watched were not in line with the person I wanted to be. Lyrics, books, movies, websites, and even social media get into our minds and can warp our thinking. Usually it is very gradual, much like a very slow moving cancer. Negative influences get into our minds and whittle away at our thoughts, morals, and values. Our teens need to be very aware of this.
- What teens do as teens won’t really have much bearing on their lives as adults. We as parents certainly know this to be true, but we also need to make sure to train our children to be fully aware of the fact that the decisions they make today so often affect their lives later. We need to encourage our children to look toward the future and to be working toward becoming the people they want to be even now. Especially with social media, things can certainly come back to haunt them later.
- The things teens do wrong are only a problem if they get caught. How does that famous phrase go? Character is who you are when no one is looking? Is that it? I’m not sure if I have it exactly right, but this is an important concept for our kids to understand. Teaching our kids to be honest, trustworthy, and responsible even when no one is around is so important. Reminding our kids that they have to look themselves in the mirror each day is key. Someday they won’t have to answer to us, and there will be plenty of times when authority figures are not around. Ultimately, they have to live with themselves. When better to learn this priceless lesson than during their teen years?
- Teens are basically adults. Um, no. No. Teens need to understand that they are not adults. Period. That’s all I’ve got on this one.
Don’t let your teen become a victim of the world around them. Don’t let them embrace the stereotypes and beliefs of their peers. Being aware of these common assumptions of the teens of today can help us as parents combat them, equipping us to raise children who are strong, courageous, and sure of themselves and the things they believe in. This will serve them well as teens and adults.
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