Wednesday, August 25, 2010

10 Things Adults Should Know about Teenagers

10 Things Adults Should Know about Teenagers
Pointers for Adult Volunteers (and Parents)





By Brian Kirk as published in YMtoday.com

Brian is a Disciples of Christ minister serving the urban church of Union Avenue Christian in St. Louis.


This article was first written to help adult volunteers on mission trips, but I believe the all parents need to read this wise insight.  Enjoy.

Al Menconi, editor

This summer, for the first time at my church, instead of taking a "youth mission trip," we took an "all-church mission trip." This meant that adults other than those who regularly work with our students went along for the journey. It ocurred to me that if we were going to travel, live, and work together for a week, it might be helpful to give these other adults some pointers on hanging out with young people. What follows, in no particular order, are the top ten tips I shared with those adults prior to our trip.
1) Teenagers are people, too. Resist calling them "kids" (unless you mean it as a term of endearment) or speaking about them as if they aren't in the room.
2) Teenagers need time. Particularly during discussions, young people need a little time to think about what they want to say. Resist the temptation to jump in with "the right answer," and don't feel you have to fill in every moment of silence with talking.
3) Teenagers like adults. Despite what you may remember from your younger days, teenagers do enjoy the companionship of adults. They just aren't always sure that we like them, so they can seem standoff-ish at times. In fact, many are at a point in their lives when they are trying to put a little independent distance between themselves and their parents, so they are seeking other caring adults to serve as mentors and role models.
4) Teenagers have a lot to teach us. In many ways, The Breakfast Club got it right. Young people are unique individuals with unique talents, gifts, attitudes, and perspectives. It would be a mistake to lump them all together as one homogenous group.
5) Teenagers' body clocks are different from adults'. Most teens need between eight and ten hours of sleep a night and get much less. Additionally, most teens are not at their peak until late morning and many are "night owls."
6) Teenagers are passionate. The first part of the teenage brain to fully develop is the emotions center. This means that teens can have high-highs and low-lows all in one day, can really connect with the hurt of others, and can be very passionate about the things they believe in.
7) Teenagers want to "own" their experiences. We have a temptation as adults, when teens talk about their struggles, to say things like, "I went through the same thing at your age," or "I had the same problems and I survived it," or "Here's how I handled that problem." In many ways, the experiences of teens today are quite different from when we were young. Their struggles are real, and they want them taken seriously, not summarily dismissed with, "I survived that and you will, too." Often, the best approach with young people isn't to offer advice, but just to listen.
8) Teenagers are fun to be around. You might think hanging out with adolescents would make you feel old, but it's just the opposite. They often offer a perspective on life and the world that is refreshingly honest, hopeful, and new. And that sense of hope and possibility can be contagious.
9) Teenagers can be a great source of frustration. Teenagers are great, but let's be realistic about this, too. They can be incredibly frustrating to work with...unless you are willing to be flexible, and can take a little good natured ribbing and criticism, and remember that they still have a lot of growing up to do. Which leads to the final item on this list...
10) Teenagers are not adults. No matter how much they might look or act like adults, teenagers are still children, in the best sense of the word. For every moment of maturity, they have other moments where they grumble about taking out the trash, neglect their responsibilities, fight with their best friends and then make up an hour later, and choose goofing off over doing their work. Don't expect them to act like adults. Expect them to act like young people who are still growing, adjusting, stumbling, and trying to figure it all out.


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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Life Rules for Teenagers

Life Rules for Teenagers
This week I thought I’d pass on some classic words of wisdom from Charles J. Sykes, author of the 1996 book Dumbing Down Our Kids: Why American Children Feel Good About Themselves But Can’t Read, Write, Or Add.  These rules have been incorrectly attributed to a number of other people over the years.  Most recently, emails have been circulating stating that they were a part of a high school graduation ceremony speech by Bill Gates, Founder of Microsoft, but that attribution is false.
In any event, these rules are timeless, humorous, and so very true.  They caught my attention, so I think they will catch yours as well. Feel free to pass them on, but be sure not to attribute them to me.  Al Menconi

Life Rules for Teenagers  
Rule No. 1: Life is not fair. Get used to it. The average teenager uses the phrase “It’s not fair” 8.6 times a day. You got it from your parents, who said it so often you decided they must be the most idealistic generation ever.  When they started hearing it from their own kids, they realized Rule No. 1.
Rule No. 2: The real world won’t care as much about your self-esteem as your school does. It’ll expect you to accomplish something before you feel good about yourself. This may come as a shock. Usually, when inflated self-esteem meets reality, kids complain that it’s not fair. (See Rule No. 1)  
Rule No. 3: Sorry, you won’t make $40,000 a year right out of high school. And you won’t be a vice president or have a car phone either. You may even have to wear a uniform that doesn’t have a Gap label. 
Rule No. 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait ’til you get a boss. He doesn’t have tenure, so he tends to be a bit edgier. When you screw up, he’s not going to ask you how you feel about it.  
Rule No. 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping. They called it opportunity. They weren’t embarrassed making minimum wage either. They would have been embarrassed to sit around talking about Kurt Cobain all weekend.
Rule No. 6: It’s not your parents’ fault. If you screw up, you are responsible. This is the flip side of “It’s my life,” and “You’re not the boss of me,” and other eloquent proclamations of your generation. When you turn 18, it’s on your dime. Don’t whine about it, or you’ll sound like a baby boomer.  
Rule No. 7: Before you were born your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way paying your bills, cleaning up your room and listening to you tell them how idealistic you are. And by the way, before you save the rain forest from the blood-sucking parasites of your parents’ generation, try delousing the closet in your bedroom.
Rule No. 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers. Life hasn’t. In some schools, they’ll give you as many times as you want to get the right answer. Failing grades have been abolished and class valedictorians scrapped, lest anyone’s feelings be hurt. Effort is as important as results. This, of course, bears not the slightest resemblance to anything in real life. (See Rule No. 1, Rule No. 2 and Rule No. 4.)  
Rule No. 9: Life is not divided into semesters, and you don’t get summers off. Not even Easter break. They expect you to show up every day. For eight hours. And you don’t get a new life every 10 weeks. It just goes on and on. While we’re at it, very few jobs are interested in fostering your self-expression or helping you find yourself. Fewer still lead to self-realization. (See Rule No. 1 and Rule No. 2.)
Rule No. 10: Television is not real life. Your life is not a sitcom. Your problems will not all be solved in 30 minutes, minus time for commercials. In real life, people actually have to leave the coffee shop to go to jobs.
Rule No. 11: Be nice to nerds. You may end up working for them. We all could.   
Rule No. 12: Smoking does not make you look cool. It makes you look moronic. Next time you’re out cruising, watch an 11-year-old with a butt in his mouth. That’s what you look like to anyone over 20. Ditto for “expressing yourself” with purple hair and/or pierced body parts. 
Rule No. 13: You are not immortal. (See Rule No. 12.) If you are under the impression that living fast, dying young and leaving a beautiful corpse is romantic, you obviously haven’t seen one of your peers at room temperature lately.  
Rule No. 14: Enjoy this while you can. Sure parents are a pain, school’s a bother, and life is depressing. But someday you’ll realize how wonderful it was to be a kid. Maybe you should start now. You’re welcome.  
These Life Rules for Teens were first written by Charles J. Sykes.




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