A Letter To The Teenagers I’ll Never Parent


As a teenager you are at the last stage in your life when you will be happy to hear that the phone is for you.

~Fran Lebowitz

Zombie-Parents1

Dear Teenagers of Gen Y, the Me Generation, Millennials, whatever you’re calling yourself nowadays:

Hello there! I’m your mother. Or at least I would be old enough to be your mother by now had I chosen to spread my zygotes to an unsuspecting world. (I didn’t have kids, in case you don’t know what that means.) Instead, I’m that “other adult” figure in your life, like your teacher or your coach or aunt. I know I’m over 30 and am therefore uncool in your eyes, but can you bear with me just a second here? And take those earbuds out of your ear. I can’t talk to you if you’re blasting Katy Perry tunes at full volume. You call that crap music?

Anyhow, I wanted to take a few words to offer you some advice. I understand that you already know everything and such advice is therefore worthless. I, however, have things you don’t have: a job, a status as a taxpayer subsidizing your education, and some street cred just for having survived the 1990s, so, sit down, shut up, and pay attention.

I’ll start with the good stuff. I think there’s been a lot of unfounded panic about your generation. You guys are far more tech-savvy than I or my parents will ever be, so good on ya there. Keep it up. That’s the wave of the future. You’re also far more intelligent than you’re made out to be by the media. Thousands of you are making a difference every year and you’re more charitable and selfless than I’d have thought possible. You’re also more tolerant as a whole of those different from you than previous generations, and I believe this trend will continue.

Now…to the not-so-pleasant. Do you have any idea how LOUD you can be? (And no, I was never that loud at your age.) The best gift you can give yourself is the ability to entertain yourself. Hint: it starts by putting down the iPod and the Xbox. Life will not be a source of constant entertainment for you, and work certainly won’t be. Learn to appreciate silence. Even better, become an avid reader. Your friends may laugh at you now, but you’ll be the one laughing when you get a job as an engineer or programmer or attorney when they’re working minimum wage. Read anything you can get your hands on, and read outside your comfort zone. The best books are the ones that make us question our established truths.

Some people have their panties in a twist over your so-called “immoral” behavior. I’m not going to lecture you here, as every generation, mine included, has had its share of hell-raisers. What I will do is tell you to be prudent and wise. Consider the consequences of your actions on yourself as well as others. What seems like fun now may be paid for dearly later. Are you really going to want that Justin Bieber tattoo or belly button piercing when you’re 40? A rule of thumb I use is this: consider all the stuff you loved just two or three years ago. Do you love any of it now? Would you even be caught dead with it? Trends change. Good judgment does not. As for alcohol and drugs, remember that others can be badly hurt by what seems fun and innocent. Respect the law and do the right thing.

Speaking of morality, I did want to get to that too. As an adult I do notice your behavior, and it has gotten worse over time. Even though I’m not your mom I still have to clean up your proverbial messes. I don’t expect you to be Miss Manners but I do expect you to be clean, reasonably polite, and courteous. You may think it’s cool to drop F-bombs everywhere you go but this is not the way civilized people speak, contrary to what you’ve seen in movies and TV shows. Act with class and you will be treated with class. It’s important to learn this now before you actually go to work. You will get a rude awakening when you discover that it’s not OK to dress like a tramp/gangsta and curse like a sailor in the business world.

Don’t get too upset; I haven’t lost all faith in you yet. I have seen many great things done by your generation and I think you have the capacity for so much more. The main point I’m trying to make is that you have a choice. You choose whether you are polite or rude, lazy or motivated, educated or ignorant, selfish or selfless. I want to believe you can make the right decisions without me or any other adult beating you over the head with After School Special-style lessons (wait, you’re not old enough to know those) in morality. You are more capable than you think.

And I’m not as uncool as you think. After all, I had to go through what you’re going through now too. It sucks now but it does get better. If you ever want to talk, you know where to find me.

Sincerely,

A Caring Adult (not your mother)

teenagers

If you are a parent of a teenager, what do you enjoy/not enjoy about it? If you are an aunt, uncle, teacher or other adult who deals with teenagers, what has been your experience?

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~ by Howlin' Mad Heather on December 13, 2012.

2 Responses to “A Letter To The Teenagers I’ll Never Parent”

  1. Well said!

  2. I don’t mind the f-bombs personally. I do mind the rampant homophobia, bigotry and “I got mine attitude.” Oh, wait, that’s our generation and those older than us!
    All teasing aside, a lot of what you said here seems like personal piques, which you are, of course, completely entitled to. I personally like my loud music, but to each their own. I actually think these kids are kinda tame. Where’s the Social Distortion? Where’s the Black Flag? Where’s the Kajagoogoo… errr… or somesuch.
    As for broader discussion of generations, and motherhood (or lack thereof) just today I found out that one of my friends I knocked around with when I was a young punk is now a grandma. Oy gevalt! (Oh, and I probably will regret disclosing this, but she’s younger than me.)

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