LET’S TALK: TEENAGERS.

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”.

UGH.

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?

Let’s talk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

176 Responses to “Let’s Talk: Teenagers.”

  1. Barbara says:

    I’ve already respond once, but I just remembered something that my kids would say to me on more than one occasion. Whenever we were out somewhere and we would see a kid acting up, being disrespectful, cursing or anything really awful, one of my kids would say, “Wow, Mom! They need a week with you.” I always laughed when they said it.

    I wish I could describe what it was that I did all those years, but it all boiled down to respect and earning respect. And it goes both ways. I do know that I’ve been told I have a great, “If looks could kill” stare. Now that they’re older (27,25,20) I just say, “You know you’re out of the will if you do that!”

  2. Alison says:

    Don’t give up hope! (And stop reading People!) You aren’t seeing the teens who spend their Saturdays coaching autistic kids in baseball, the ones who tutor at the shelter every Wednesday, the kids who commit themselves and their bodies to a sport and become team leaders. Because the media doesn’t talk about them.

    Those kids were incredibly rude (alcohol will do that to you!) But you can raise good kids in this society. But you have to turn them away from mainstream media. You have to talk with them constantly about their choices and possible consequences. You have to be vigilant, and then compassionate when they make mistakes.

    Mine aren’t perfect. But we are having a ball raising them. Mom of 17, 15, and 12.

  3. Mer says:

    Wow. First off, major props for yelling out your window. I would’ve begged my husband to do it, and if he didn’t, I’d just call the cops.

    It makes me feel super old, but I do find myself asking all the time, “What is WITH kids these day?” I was like you…never talked back to my parents and basically stayed in line because I didn’t want to disappoint them.

    Anyway, great post.

  4. Amanda Laitinen says:

    It’s all about the parents! You mentioned your parents and how they would never let you disrespect like “the girl in the street”! Well, there you go! A classic point that shows kids will be what their parents teach them! It’s such a tough job being a parent, but the most rewarding and wonderful experience leaps and bounds above anything else! You love to create a room; can you imagine creating a little person? Some day, it will be your best creation!

  5. Gray says:

    well, i could write a 20 page missive on this topic…but i won’t.
    you are so on the right track….but the teens are not all like that and i’m sure you would raise wonderful, well rounded kids.

    being a boomer, i am more familiar with 20-somethings these days, and i will tell you that i think most of that generation’s issues come from the fact that we live in a child-centric society and my contemporaries live through and for their children.
    don’t do it. be a parent- not a BFF to your kids.
    on the other hand, there is a fine line between that and having your kids so worried about what you think of them (my son) that they feel constantly judged – you don’t want that either.
    again – you have an excellent head on your shoulders, so you will do just fine.
    but the dog would definitely be easier…..

  6. JOdy says:

    WOW! I could go on and on about this too! I work in a school and I can tell you we are not permitted to discipline the teens! For the most part, the parents back the teens! They think NOTHING of talking back to an adult. This is SO discouraging I think!

  7. TT says:

    I have never posted on here before, but I LOVED your post. Thank you for your bravery in posting this. As someone who is less than ten years out of teenagerhood/dom(what’s the right way to say it? Also, I’m 23.), I can assure you not all of us were like that when we were younger and more foolish. I am a teacher and have worked in a high school, and am currently working in a middle school. I try to love all my students equally, but there are some bad apples. And sometimes, those apples don’t fall far from the tree(but we can’t always blame the parents; I think society itself is a contributing factor….). There are some wonderful teenagers though. They(like others have said in previous comments), do not always get publicized.
    Even so, some “grown ups” are also rude (case in point, some people I know in their early twenties still need to grow up, myself included).

  8. KH says:

    Ohh, let me tell you. I’ve never commented before but this just happens to be my soapbox issue, too. I am a teacher and I teach 360 kids a week. This is not just a teenage problem, but a child problem as well! It is so discouraging to deal with such a lack of respect and integrity daily. Like you, I would never even dream of defying an adult and now it just seems to be the expected behavior. A kid in the 2nd grade told me earlier this week that he would, “pee on me” if I didn’t let him do what he wanted. Insane! I think it’s a real issue that should be addressed by our society or we’re going to have some serious issues as a nation. Being in this job for the past 7 years has made me lose hope and unfortunately, I see more children and teens who are disrespectful than those who should be held as role models. I say go for the dog.

  9. Jocelyn says:

    I completely agree. I’m 34 and sometimes feel that I have become the “crotchety” woman when I see children and teens acting rude and insensitive. Sadly, I see it in younger and younger children.I have a 10-year-old niece and I have witnessed girls her age being RUDE to adults (parents, teachers, etc). What is happening to the younger generations? Why does it seem that the majority are bullies and/or just plain rude? When I was 10, 12, 14 years old (and still to this day) I respected people who were older than me. I was polite and kind and I feel most of my friends and the kids I grew up with were, as well. Why is this not the case anymore? I feel I could go on and on but this is becoming a bit of a rant and I swear, I really do like kids a lot! There are some pretty great ones out there that I have met. I just wonder where this strange sense of entitlement is coming from and why at such a young age? Maybe we can just blame Miley and move on… ;) (Kidding!)

  10. Tina Beanie says:

    OMG! How annoying. I can definitely commiserate with you. I STILL call my Mom and Grandma’s friends either Auntie or Uncle followed by their first name or Miss or Mr. followed by their first names! I wouldn’t dare even THINK rude thoughts about my elders let alone speak any. I just don’t get why this generation of teens thinks is perfectly alright to do this.

  11. Brooke says:

    While your neighborhood experience, as well as that NFL party house story, are HORRIFYING, I think it’s dangerous and too easy to blame it all on the parents. While I was (am) a major pleaser/perfectionist that vividly recalls sobbing in the bathroom when I got my name on the board in school, I have other quite shitty parts of me, like an addictive personality, that I take complete accountability for…we live in a toxic society, DNA is unavoidable, and while there are obviously glaring exceptions (your neighbors, I’m sure) some kids are simply an effing nightmare to raise…and their parents, like most, are trying the best they can and need medication and therapy more than judgement.

  12. Jamie says:

    Thank you! And I swear it is endemic across Newton, MA. There’s several punk kid groups in my neighborhood that terrorize cars at nice, scream profanities at the top of their lungs, and go around stealing people’s packages from their front stoops. Growing up, “shut up” was a swear word and sass-mouthing any adult would result in some hard-felt form of punishment. I am convinced the problem is that the current generation of parents refuse to actually parent. They want to be best friends with their children; to treat them like equals. Instead of instilling any sense of behavior, decorum, decency, and respect, they raise children who feel like entitled, bratty, kings-of-the-world. It makes me cringe.

  13. Erin says:

    Not sure if you’re still reading comments but just think, while that one girl was a snot about the incident, there were more of them that didn’t respond back. Sure, they ignored your request but being teenagers, that sounds normal. Maybe if you had gone outside and asked them in person to keep it down instead of yelling out the window you would have got a more positive response??? You probably came off as a faceless person that was easy to be a brat to…just like how some people interact online ;)
    Kids in general are great and each age group has their own downside. Parenting is such a challenge but it is honestly the most rewarding experience. It really puts life in perspective…but it’s not something you understand until you have children yourself.

  14. Lorrie says:

    Just want to comment and say you can’t blame the kids, its how they were raised, in a liberal progressive household.
    In the article you referenced, the parents want to sue the football player for putting their kids faces online. Instead, they should all pony up the money to fix the damage. You can find discussions online saying well, the guy is rich, as if that warrants damage to his home should be his responsibility.

    Schools replaced discipline with a lawyer. Punish my kid and you get sued. Rare is the night I can out out to dinner at 8 or 9pm and not run into little tofu or sprout running around the restaurant “expressing themselves”. A new bar opens up and you always see a debate about strollers or no strollers allowed. The Jamaican nannies raise them during the day so the parents want to bring them out to the bars at night. Responsibility starts at home. It takes a village to ruin a kid.

  15. Nikki K says:

    Well, I could not agree more with your rant. I feel exactly the same. I’ve got a few smaller kids (10 and under) and I will kick their butt if they do that kind of stuff as teens…we NEVER back talked to adults.

    There’s a lot of comments on this post – which is great. I should read them all as maybe someone has already posted this…but did you see Ashton Kutcher’s speech at a recent teen awards show? Born and raised in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, like myself, he’s really a pretty down to earth guy. I’ll post the link. I hope a lot of teens (well, everyone for that matter) saw this speech. And that they took to heart what he said…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FNXwKGZHmDc

  16. Starla says:

    I am going to stop reading your blog, I cannot handle anymore of your rants… this is the third one I have read.
    Goodbye!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  17. LINDSEY says:

    I agree there are certainly some little jerks out there these days, but there always have been and always will be. I’m not sure if you yelling “shut up” and “you’re going to call the cops in 5 seconds” warrants the most respectable response from those kids, though. Maybe if you reacted differently, they would have. Food for thought.

  18. Catherine says:

    My daughter (13) thinks I am uncool because I am, “Such a mom.” I made her go to her volleyball game on the night of the Justin Bieber concert. We were late to the concert, but I felt it was more important for her to honor her responsibility to her team. Both her teammates and their parents thought I was nuts.

    But my kids know if I heard them speak that way to an adult, life would be very difficult around here. So there are a few of us around who are at least trying to teach our kids to have respect for others.

  19. I feel that my most important job as a parent is to send my kids into the world as productive and respectful human beings. I won’t tolerate anything less. When my son slammed the door to his room in “my house” he lost his bedroom door for several weeks. He wouldn’t dare do that again. He also knows that I am his biggest fan and he is loved. I am not just a “Hard Ass.” But the other parents in the neighbor hood threaten to send their kids to me when they act up. In my opinion, parents are trying too hard to have their kids “like” them. The biggest mistake a parent can make is giving their child everything they want. They end up raising self absorbed kids that aren’t use to working for what they want and they grow up to be unhappy adults who can’t hack it in the real world.

  20. Rita says:

    First off you put yourself on their level by yelling. Second you don’t want to be the neighborhood bully. I hear your pain. When I moved in this house kids ran on my lawn, threw rocks and screamed. I talked to the kids and believe it or not made friends with them. Told them it hurt the grass when they walked on it, that it is a growing living thing. Rocks aren’t made to be thrown they can poke your eye out and when you scream I think you are hurt and I “might” have to call the police. Now you are talking to teenagers! Try to talk to them on their level. Act stupid or pitiful….or if all else fails go out in the middle of the street and join them…..that should have them out of there in no time. Good Luck

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  22. [...] Erin’s post on teenagers. I feel so similar to her. I think this might warrant its own post from [...]

  23. Kait says:

    I’m 27 and typically despise most people my own age so don’t even get me started on teenagers! I can only imagine this comes with getting older and seeing life through a more mature scope. So what you were thinking that night- we are ALL thinking at some point.

    My boyfriend and I call it ‘the world of logic’. Welcome!! Love your blog also- I’m so not design savvy even though I’m in the world of styling. I’m always inspired when I come by for a read!

  24. Sarah says:

    HERE HERE! Just reading this gets my blood boiling. I think if the cops had ever been called on me, my parents would have let them take me to jail just to teach me a lesson. (In fact, this did happen to one of my friends and that definitely set her straight). I intend on raising my kids the exact same way. Luckily, I was raised knowing that misbehavior and disrespect would lead to consequences, not a negotiation, which is something I see parents doing all the time with their small children and teens. Makes me ask myself “Who’s in charge here??” I’m sure you’re not the only one in your neighborhood who is disturbed by this activity, so I say next time, call the cops. And do it every time you hear them congregating in the middle of the street late at night. If her parents refuse to discipline her, at least the community can.

  25. While I must say I am glad that there was no such thing as social media when I was in my teens, I really wouldn’t have had THAT much to be embarrassed/ashamed about. My teenage years sound a lot like yours – riddled with angst and insecurity, but tempered by a general fear/respect of adults. I never got into any real trouble (and neither did any of my friends) – we were all way too busy with sports and extracurriculars, and I can honestly say that I never drank, had sex, or attended a “house party” in high school. (Lots of people love to make fun of me for that, but I have a feeling I didn’t miss much.) So I’m totally with you, Erin, and I have SUCH a hard time fathoming the complete lack of that fear/respect for adults that the younger generation seems to have. And I don’t think our feelings mean we’re just getting old and crotchety.

  26. Oh and to paint you an even better picture, I was once like 3 minutes late for my 10:00 curfew and almost wet my pants in fear of my mother. Who is like the least scary person I know, and of course didn’t care. Haha!