Late one night last week I was woken up by the screeching and guffawing sounds of teenagers outside my window. Standing in the middle of the street was a gaggle of over a dozen, all yelling and being generally obnoxious. This has become a regular thing, as the family across the street happens to have a teenager, and she likes to invite what seems like our entire town over for parties, and apparently the parents are “cool” with it. Fed up with yet another noise incident, I shot out of bed and yelled out my window for them to move it along. I was wholly ignored, the continued loudness reverberating off the pavement, and with my ire now raised I screamed “Are you guys serious? I will call the cops in 5 seconds if you don’t shut up!”
To which, one of them- a girl- started snottily counting down from 5… and I nearly lost my mind. Andrew woke up and held me back from jumping out the window.
Perhaps I should just accept that I have become the crotchety old neighbor and saddle myself up to a Go-Go and start eating dinner at 4 p.m.- or perhaps I should voice my concern over the absurdity that had befallen a chunk of today’s teenagers and general teen culture. As I was thinking about this topic I saw this story and thought, I want to discuss this.
(Pardon me while I pull up my soapbox. *Scraaaaaaaaape.*)
I am not a parent. You know this. But I was a teenager and I cannot fathom ever talking back to an adult like that. And while I barely feel like an adult, I do own a house, wear a wedding ring and chronologically speaking, am of “adult age”. Had I been in that teenage girl’s shoes outside my window, I would have been freaking out that I had not only pissed off someone over 25 but that the cops might be called. I was no saint growing up, but I was raised to be respectful of adults and absolutely NOT get arrested. Two kind of important life lessons in my book. I was as miserable, difficult and self-centered as any teenager, but I can count on one hand the times I ever yelled at my parents (Mom, back me up on this). And I need NO hands to count the number of times I yelled at someone else’s parents. Since moving to the burbs I can tell you about several incidents in which I have witnessed teenagers swearing and screaming at their parents and treating them with blatant disrespect.
It absolutely blows my mind and sends my ovaries cowering in fear. Perhaps a third dog is a better idea?
My parents raised me with a healthy fear of disappointing them. I seriously wanted to (and did) cry when I felt I let them down in some way. Therapists have told me that this has lead me to have boundary issues and care too much what they think as an adult, to a semi-debilitating degree. Hey, we all have our problems. But I would rather be saddled with that then grow up with a lack of respect for them and a carelessness about living up to expectations of fairness, hard work and honesty. And I think I turned out okay. At least I’ve never been arrested (to date- who know what Thursday will bring).
And while I think that good parenting (as I’m sure all of you blog readers practice) can quell much of this kind of arrested development, I’m most concerned about the world around these kids affecting them and making them into…well, jerks. To back up my concern are the celebrities they are looking up to, or not even, simply looking at because they get so much press: friggin’ Miley Cyrus, the Kardashians (made famous by a sex tape, remember), Chris Brown and this whole Teen Mom (turned porn star) culture, and I think- well, this can’t be good. When I was a teen I was busy losing my shit over the fact that Donna Martin got DRUNK. AT. THE. PROM. Drunk! Can you believe it? Will she graduate????? It was such a different world, even in the 90’s. Cut to current day when there are girls like this one, tweeting about how she blew a .341 in public, went to jail, and, well, #yolo. Cue massive twitter following and people saying she’s “awesome” and “my hero”.
I am sure that parents of teens in the 60’s felt the same way. There are ebbs and flows to social culture and I am probably just seeing a small portion of it. I know there are many, many wonderful, productive teens out there- I just wish I saw more of THOSE kids and less of the Justin Beiber’s of the world. I specifically want young girls of the world to know that smart is sexy, classy is cool and being involved and engaged in the world makes you interesting. Sex tapes are not the springboards for fame. Men don’t need to see you half dressed and duck-faced in “selfies” to think you’re pretty. Being rude is not awesome. You have to work your ass off and pay your dues to find success. Be more. Do more. Think more. That’s what will make you special in the eyes of the world. I know that if I had a daughter I would do everything in my power to present that to her, but would the world just undo it all? I just don’t know.
Am I totally off base here? What do you parent’s think? Are you encouraged or discouraged by teen culture today? Do you worry about what the future holds? Are puppies a safer bet?