When I was a teenager I went to school, came home, went for a ride on my horse, ate dinner, did my homework, and went to bed. My biggest dramas were homework, exams, horse competitions, and hating who i was and what i looked like. I never had a mobile phone (well probably because they weren’t invented), iPod, iPad, laptop, or Xbox, I was lucky if I was allowed to use the home phone. Fashion was denim jeans, T-shirts, one piece bathers covered by a T-shirt, skirts to the knee, flat shoes, no make up until 18, and no piercings, not even in the ear. The school dances were in dresses to the knee and weren’t fitted, their were boys on one side of the hall, girls on the other, we were lucky to hold even a conversation. It was rare any of us had boyfriends, even few had kissed a boy, let alone pashed with a tongue. We didn’t have our own stereos, tv’s or computers in our rooms, we may have had a cassette player. We went to the occasional mass at our local church, did baptism, communion, and confirmation, and we went to Xmas eve mass every year. We were lucky to wear foundation, let alone eye shadow, eye liner, mascara, or lipstick, most weren’t allowed until 18. We were seen but never heard. We would never have back chatted and if we did we got a smack across our bums. We went to school everyday, never had curriculum days, and were lucky that we even got school holidays. Nobody had the courage to wag, if any ventured too, they were belted and suspended, with severe punishment. We were expected to have and go to school parent interviews, we were expected to get at least a B, if we got below we were expected to be tutored and spend hours in the library doing homework after school. If we wanted to buy anything we were expected to earn our pocket money, nothing was for free, unless it was a special occasion. Music was either on the radio, cassette or record, and it never contained swear words. the only games we knew were either board games or card games. we had no internet, no online games, we were lucky to have a game on our commodore 64. We didn’t call any adults by their first name, even friends were a Mr or Mrs or a Miss. Adults didn’t even swear let alone their children, and if you did you were smacked and grounded. We went on holidays as a family, doing activities together, and we had fun.
This was the life as a teen in the 80’s and 90’s, it was nothing like it is today, and I worry that our teens have lost their way, their parents so overwhelmed and pressured they don’t know how to correct the way things have become.
With lives surrounded by online social media, online conversations and arguments, and online gaming I wonder if the teens of today even know how to carry a conversation. With piercings in ears, belly buttons, tongues, ears and places I simply don’t want to know about it, I wonder how they don’t face detention at school, let alone able to get a job. Clothing that barely exists, showing body parts we didn’t even think about in our teens, let alone allowed to buy. Make up beyond their years. Living in a world that only they exist in, so self absorbed that they have no regard for anyone outside their teenage world. Language and back chat that shows no respect for anyone even themselves. Where having a boy or girlfriend is the norm, so to is passionate kissing that only adults should know, some have sex, and others are already parents.
Not only have each of them lost their way, they are living well beyond their years, and they act like their adults when they are just kids.
I wonder what this will do to their lives, their relationships with family, and their ability to go to university or get a job. I wonder how they will ever be able to hold a simple conversation let alone have a successful career. It concerns me that this so called adult behaviour as a child, will end in tears, they will lose any self confidence they had, and they will retreat into a shell of hatred and loneliness. Heading onto a path of self-hatred, and mental illness because they have tried to grow up way too fast and failed. Existing in a world that they don’t know how to handle, let alone exist in.
As parents we can only do our best, we can guide, we can teach, but we can’t force them to fit into the expectations we have made. For some of us, parenting in a divorced situation becomes even harder, not only are we faced with shared care, we have to some how deal with the competition of the other parent who wants to be the ‘fun’ parent, or should I say the best friend instead of the parent. Becoming a war between morals and having none, rules and having none, and no ability to change anything in the fear you won’t see your child ever again. How can you as parents draw the line on anything when children rule the roost, the laws favour them, and society has given up on rules, morals and values.
What does any of this do to our mental health as parents, or more fearfully our children. When children want to find what they think is happiness well beyond their years, in a world where they don’t care for anyone but themselves. How can anyone who thinks they are grown up, supposably mature, and able to do anything mature enough to cope with life, when they lack the maturity to attend school, not swear, and not act like they are 21. Are we headed for a crisis in the next generation, a mental health crisis brought on by everything that as teenagers we didn’t even dream about let alone did.