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Understanding Teenagers

When we (as a society) think of teenagers, what images pop into your head? Lazy, arrogant and naive? Ignorant, grumpy and hormonal? Well, as a matter of fact, most teenagers are not like this. It is an image created by the media which must be corrected. I admit there are indeed teenagers, as with any generation living today, who embody these negative traits, but they are just the minority. What about the hard-working teenagers who are committed to work, education or both? As with any positive aspect of society, they don’t live up to the sensationalism the media is looking for and so don’t get coverage, thus perpetuating the image of the ASBO generation.

As you may have guessed, I am indeed a teenager. I am 18 years old, am studying German and Portuguese at University and have a job. All I am trying to achieve with this article is to portray to the adult audience that most teenagers are indeed decent human beings. I hope that by the end of this article you will view us in a different light, or perhaps understand us a little more. I’d also like to offer a few useful tips as to how to handle teenagers (I think ‘handle is the correct word!).

So what are my experiences as a teenager these days? Well to start with, my own father is of the school of thinking that all teenagers are disobedient and ignorant (apart from his girls, of course!), and that really irritates me. Every teenager I know works as hard as they can to better themselves, and according to that surprisingly common attitude, all of that is worth nothing. Also, I am really struggling to set myself up in life, as any teenager who is not born with a silver spoon in their mouth does. I have a part-time job in which I work as many hours as I can, which is difficult whilst studying for my degree. I may be biased, but studying languages is not easy. I am also trying to scrape together every penny to pay for my car which I took finance out for. I know it was my choice, and I’m not moaning, but £300 a month is a lot to pay for when all things are considered. However the largest mental problem I face, along with many other teenagers, is the attitudes we struggle to rectify. I realise that we are still children, but when a young person reaches their mid to late teens, a little respect goes a long way. Even if they don’t deserve it in your eyes. I am quite happy with my lot in life so far even though I am very young, but being a teenager does ‘suck’ sometimes! I imagine you didn’t have to deal with sex, STIs, pregnancy, crudity, peer pressure and the ridiculous number of exams we’re forced to take today, to the extent we do.

So what tips do I have to help a parent handle their teenager? Or maybe even an employer who wants to get the most out of their young staff? Well, most of the time, teenagers feel as if they’re not getting enough respect and they’re not being treated as adults. I know we’re not experienced in the ways of the world; I’ve come to learn that in the past few months, but I’m afraid you’ll just have to act as if they do for now. I’m not saying don’t parent them, that would be disastrous, just give them a little bit of responsibility and respect, and see how it goes. Trust me, I know from experience, that will go a long way to achieving their love and respect. Oh, and try not to be obviously embarrassing. My mum seems to love doing this and, honestly, it’s quite detrimental to our relationship from my point of view. Our image is everything! And my last (and probably most important) tip: listen to and support them. If they come up with a seemingly stupid idea or want to do something you don’t approve of, try not to shout and forbid it. Trust me, they’ll just go ahead and do it anyway. Listen to their reasons and try to support them if possible. Everybody makes mistakes, and that’s how we learn from life. So let them pick themselves up again, and be a shoulder to cry on. Then you’ll be super-mum/dad!