February 28th, 2015 § Leave a Comment
As a parent of teenagers, I get this sentiment a lot. “They’re mostly good kids. And with these things, you have to be realistic.” Be realistic. The trouble with reality is that far too often it sucks. I have no intention of being realistic.
That’s not to say I am unsympathetic to the harsh realities of being a teenager. It can’t be easy being judged by a jury of your peers when your peers happen to possess the devastating combination of being the most judgmental of people while being of the least sound judgment. Walking that five-year gauntlet would be rough without having to do it while everything about you is changing. Mind, body, and heart are shuffled about. Hormonal effects are real. Girls become women and boys become men – the body first, while the mind usually lags. And how do they feel about all this? Who knows? So, yes, we can all agree that teenage life is not all roses and cupcakes.
All the more reason not to be realistic, no? Let’s be clear, I’m not talking about style or availability. They’re going to dress funny. I get that. They’re not going to want to hang with Dad. A given. Nor are we talking about a dumb decision here and there. Of course that’s happening. What I’m talking about is accepting as a part of their nature things like being self-absorbed, like they can’t be bothered to be considerate, respectful. I’m talking about their acute vulnerability to be people pleasing, to go with the crowd. Treating them as if they are incapable of courage, sacrifice, self-control.
“They’re mostly good kids. With these things, you have to be realistic.” Have you seen reality lately? It sucks. “Realistic” is not where I intend to lead my teenage kids.