Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Maybe today's teens aren't all that screwed up...



Recently I got sucked into one of those TV infomercials trying to sell music from the 50’s. I was amused as the overly botoxed hosts told me that this music defined a generation. Come on, defined a generation? This is the stuff my parents listened to; therefore it can’t be that good. Smug I agree, but that’s what was going through my mind. I mean really, how could Pat Boone and The Everly Brothers define a generation? 

After skimming through the channels some more, and almost buying a Mr. T Flavor Wave Oven (that’s a story for another day) I got to thinking; it’s hard for someone of my generation to believe, but yes, at one point Elvis was banned from television (well at least from the waist down) because of his pelvic gyrations and that there were many people who found him, Rock and Roll (when was Roll dropped anyway?) and this new concept of teenagers to be very scary stuff. Many adults of that time felt that this was going to be the downfall of America as they knew it, and that we as a society were doomed. Of course we all know we did make it through that time, and now we all look back at those concerns as, well, quaint really. 

When I hear adults these days talk about all teens today are disrespectful, or their music has no soul, or things were different when they were kids, I have a hard time. Today most teens in America are exhibiting their natural rebellion; just as their parents and generations before them did against their parents, and, just like our parents didn’t get us, we don’t get them. Rebellion is a normal, and I would argue necessary, aspect of growing up. Where I feel parents get into trouble is when they don’t counter this rebellion with natural consequences, and as a result I feel many parents find themselves in a position where they can’t differentiate between normal behavior and accepted behavior.

One of the things we work very hard at here at The Deck House School is the idea of natural consequences.  We don't have a thick rule book, and we don't have a list of "do's and don'ts"  - instead we have a community.  A community which embraces, adapts and learns from itself.  Yes the way we do it is a bit messier, but we feel strongly that our methods, developed by our founder  Ned Hall over 38 years ago, are still relevant and appropriate today.  
Admittedly,  the issues facing families today are different than generations before, yes. But I’d argue that is true of every generation, and we’re doing our teens today a disservice if we either underplay or overplay these events or factors and don’t do our job as parents, stewards and guardians of the next generation of adults. Just remember these famous words said recently, 

The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt forauthority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in placeof exercise Children are now tyrants, not the servants of theirhouseholds. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. Theycontradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up daintiesat the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers."

Ok, not that recently, as those words are attributed to the Greek philosopher Socrates, but you get the idea. This issue of how to handle or deal with adolescents has perplexed adults for literally thousands of years, and will continue for thousands more. Someday our children will look back on the good old days of the 10’s as fondly as other generations look back on the 50’s 70 or the 80’s and wonder what’s wrong with their children. Until then, however, it is our job to guide them, educate them, discipline them and love them until they're old enough to actually have that epiphany.