Disclaimer: This post could be construed to sound like we have it all together and have perfect kids...oh no! We are struggling through issues just like anyone else. These are simply observations of one mother of teenagers.
Sometimes I am caught by surprise at the openness of today's teens. If you know their cues you can know whether they are hurting , angry, contented or any other various emotional tag most teens wear today. I do mean wear. As we are out at the mall or local shopping center, I get an education from my boys, who have been paying attention to these trends through kids at youth group and a teen radio show that our Christian radio station plays.
Emo: Tight pants, long sleeves(to cover the cutting) and white makeup. Reflecting emotional pain. It has its roots in music that is extremely emotional. Click on the word emo to link to an article on the subject.
Punk: The angry side of emo. Will dress for impact, pink or some other noticable hair color, in general a funky look. Just making a statement of "look at me".
Goth: All about black, death, trip pants, a statement of individuality and morbidity.
I am sure there are others but I remember my shock the first time I heard about the Emo way of presenting one's self. I thought, my goodness, they are screaming for love! They are allowing us to see their pain! I have attempted to reach out to a girl who visits our youth group sometimes. We ran into her at the mall and she was with other scary looking kids, like herself.
In other days, I likely would have been scared and put off by her but on this day she ran up to us and was so happy to see us and all I saw was a sweet, lost and confused little girl with too much time on her hands.
Where are the parents of these kids? My son, Jonathan, has a real interest in counseling one day and has been observing that many of these kids, not all, but many are crying out for attention because it is missing at home. We happen to know that in this specific girl's case she is very unhappy at home.
Teens, in general, used to scare me. Even in High School I was half afraid of my own generation and preferred adults. But now, being drawn in through having teens of my own, I can see these young people as they are. Scared, wanting their independence but being given too much to deal with, wanting a moral compass but being afraid to show it, hormones rushing and not understanding the many emotions that this causes, the highs and the lows. I see the public schools wanting to treat these children as adults. Since we came from State College, very heavy with influence from Penn State, we observed through being extremely involved, the constant desire on the part of the system to want to treat the High School students as if they were already in college. They are not ready for this. We have to look behind the words and attitudes to the real needs of these young people. We have to be the adults. They need guidelines and to have the pressure taken off of them. The pressure to be an adult before they are adults.
We must not be led astray by the growing bodies and big attitudes. What these kids need most is security and guidance with love....lots and lots of love.
Our middle son (15) is stretching into young adulthood. He pulls against us and declares that he is grown and should make his own decisions. Yet, he follows us around and talks our ears off. He spends a fair amount of time being angry and frustrated. I see the connection between his hormones spiking and whether he is getting enough sleep. I see him also feeling angry when he is not getting enough healthy food to eat. His sugar levels fluctuate and make him out of sorts. These are parent issues. It is up to us as parents to understand and spend enough time with our children to see the causes of some of these behaviors and help our children find solutions rather than just blame it on being a teenager and writing them off for a few years.
I tell my son, every day when I drop him off for work that I love him. He gives a little snort but, you know, I see the little grin as he turns away from the car. He would not want me to know that he likes being reminded of that but it is so important.
Often, lately, he wants to stay at home with his video games when the family is having an outing. For a while, I fell into the trap of allowing this and then realized that he is missing out on family memories and would quickly become disconnected if this continued. His attitudes have improved as we have made the extra effort to make sure that he knows his presence with us is desired and often required. For Mikey, at least, he needed to know that we like being with him and really miss him if he is not with us.
For the most part, because we homeschool the kids we spend the most time with do not reflect this world's clothing or attitudes. I appreciate that as a Mom, but as a Christian woman, I feel a calling to reach out and love the hurting and wounded young people around me. I don't know where this will lead but, I am willing Lord.