I sat down to write today, prompted by the bad press given all too often to teenagers. Now before there’s lots of shouting about how people have evidence of such, and start to spout about all the wrongdoings, I wanted to say one thing … your reports of late are about a handful of teenagers, not most, and not all.
Generalisations actually make me quite angry. Stereotyping and lumping everyone in the same boat is incredibly irritating, and very often simply not true. To begin, let us look at the numbers getting bad press. How many of these clusters or groups of teens are there? Two? Three? Maybe 20 or so kids in each … so that’s roughly 60 kids … well that’s not very many is it, given how many teens are living locally.
I’m going to start by talking about the numerous teenagers I know who have part time jobs, out working, out earning, showing willing, sometimes doing late work shifts which others don’t want, that midnight hour fitting perfectly to the teens awake time.
Yes, teens live in a different time zone to the rest of us. My teen for one seems to be on US East Coast time, rising around lunchtime, and going to bed in the early hours. It’s what teens do, it is part of their growing phase, and a quite natural part of their development.
Let us now think about the numbers of teens who aren’t working, but are volunteering. Let’s now give some credit to those who freely give their time for no reward, and few thanks. Those who help out in the scout movement at beavers, cubs, scouts, rainbows, brownies, guides, those who help teach youngsters at dance groups, martial arts groups, music groups, sometimes giving up several evenings in the week, and on occasions their weekends; giving back to the groups who have previously given them so much. Some teens you’ll find volunteering in numerous sectors across the community to gain valuable work experience, wanting to better themselves and give them a better chance when it comes to finding a job.
There are numerous teenagers right here in Fylde who are immensely talented at sport, art and music, and likely many more areas. They devote a vast amount of time and commitment to work hard, practice, train and to showing up and representing their team, group or community, and I can think of numerous teens this applies to.
My own son has an incredible talent for music, and has put in hours and hours of time to learning and I’d go as far as saying mastering two instruments. Working hard to achieve Grade VIII standard in both piano and trumpet (and were it not for lockdown that Grade VIII trumpet exam would have been ticked too). I can think of many, many other local teens who are incredible musicians, who have worked hard for exams in such, and who play with several groups, orchestras and bands. William is a member of the Blackpool Sixth Band, Lancashire Youth Jazz Orchestra, and Switched on Swing, a local swingband with several young and talented teen members, as well as the great and experienced pros. William has even started to teach piano, but although offering to continue lessons via skype, has had his work dry up, so this would be another local business for people to support after lockdown ends, in fact why not help out and check out his tuition fb page @William Dee – Piano Tuition and give him a like and a share. William, as with many other youngsters I can think of have offered their time and their talent for charity, and I know for a fact that they have performed on many occasions, at many venues, for many events, and raised money for several charities, as well as being part of an annual charity music concert for The Edward Dee Fund.
Some of these teens are working incredibly hard with their studies, wanting to progress and continue their education at Universities. Clever kids, wanting to achieve, wanting to set their sights on top universities, get top class results and go on to pursue wonderful careers.
Teens are still young, they’re still growing, they’re still developing, and despite being incredibly clever they can still come out with a load of rubbish. They can be challenging, lippy and argumentative, and see lots of things in black and white, but they are transitioning into adulthood and knowing their own minds and opinions, and naturally have a rebellious streak … remember?
The label that they are all misbehaving, being antisocial, threatening, or violent, or even taking drugs, makes me uneasy. It is obvious that the groups talked about who are meeting up on our local beaches and in our local parks are not the majority, and I’d go as far as saying that a fair percentage of those said teens, have parents who are tearing their hair out trying to dissuade them from going, but as every parent of a teen knows, there is only so much you can do or say. You can talk, and nag, and warn, and advise, but only hope that even if they won’t admit to it, they do agree with and uphold the advice and morals they’ve had drummed into them. We are guardians of these young people, and hope that we raise them in such a way that they follow our lead and our example and are good people who do the right thing, but if they are headstrong in wanting to do something, there isn’t an awful lot you can do to stop them.
I’m not advocating bad behaviour in any way, and indeed am uncomfortable with some of the reports I’ve heard, but I wonder for interest’s sake how many adults can say hand on heart they haven’t made wrong choices and decisions, I wonder how many adults today were rebellious teens, and I wonder how many adults today set a good example with their behaviour and their choices? I wonder about this as I look at all which gets reported in the press and on social media, about the lifestyles of many adults, the drinking and partying which goes on, and even when I read posts and comments on various sites. Maybe we should look at our own lifestyles to see what examples we are showing our children. I know not everyone likes the quieter lifestyle like myself, with a meal out once in a while, lots of family time, family meals, talking, in the garden, activities, games, or even watching TV together. Theatre, art, music, literature, days out, all enjoyed by us as a family, and enriching the lives of all of us, not just the children.
It isn’t easy being a parent, that’s for sure, nor is it easy being a teen either, we are all learning, we’re all making choices and decisions, some good, some not so good, but the way we live, and the choices we make have consequences, the very thing we start to teach our children when they are very young. Parents, children, and indeed any other adults in our community should maybe take a good hard look at themselves and their own lives before casting stones at others. And as far as these alleged troublesome youths go, they too have made choices, they’re old enough to be accountable for their actions, not their parents, and thankfully the upstanding youngsters of our community far outweigh those who are problematic. Let us start shining a light on some of our younger residents who deserve praise and acclaim, rather than generalising that all teens are bad.
By Elizabeth Dee
(Photo courtesy of Mark Liebenberg)
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[This piece was originally written for and published by Lytham St Annes News; republished by Elizabeth Dee on Life Chez Dee on 18th January 2021]