The fear or loathing of teenagers.
The inaccurate, exaggerated, and sensational characterization of young people.
I saw another post recently about what’s wrong with kids these days. It was followed by typical responses. No respect. No discipline. No work ethic. Entitled. Smartphones. Parents. Teachers. Schools. Blah. Blah. Blah.
We. Are. Missing. The. Point.
Kids these days are the canary in our mine shaft. They are pointing to our problems - absorbing what is in the mineshaft and demonstrating to us in real-time whether it is good for them (and us) or not. If they are acting, talking, or thinking in unhealthy ways - it is an indication that WE have created an unhealthy environment. We simply cannot blame them. They have not had enough time to become responsible for their development. “Seen not heard” doesn’t work for the future of our society. In order for continued societal improvement, youth need to experience belonging at day zero, not after they “get a job.” All of them.
They have been seeing and hearing, that if you disagree with someone - villify them. Treat them like they don’t belong because they look, act, or believe differently than you do. Kids with undeveloped prefrontal cortexes already know that there is something wrong with dehumanizing and violence. But they will follow suit if the adults they are exposed to model it for them. Then when their prefrontal cortexes start developing (around age 12), the cognitive dissonance gets loud and they will separate themselves from us.
So kids don’t trust adults. They don’t respect us. They don’t want to listen to us. They have developed their own culture, language, and norms to stay safe in the mineshaft.
What will change this is belonging that includes kids. Their unique identities involved in generative collaboration to change the mineshaft.
Before you start yelling at me, I am not saying that kids do not need to learn to be responsible for their own behavior. I’m saying they learn by watching us. I am also not saying that parents, teachers, and schools are not contributors. What I am saying is that our kids are the responsibility of our whole community. I am in relationships with parents, teachers, and schools. They are too alone. Too blamed. And too much of the time, the ephebiphobia I see is coming from people who see themselves as outside the problem. They are not taking responsibility for their own contributions to a society that produces sick canaries. If you are not going to invest directly into kids with a focus on mutual respect and mutual solutions; If you are not going to support schools with generous participation and encouragement; If you are not going to see teachers as heroes… then you need to be grateful to those who are. You are not helping anything or anyone, including yourself, with blaming and complaining that is not backed up by your own involvement and sacrifice. Either do something generative or put your energy into appreciating those who are.
I write in a geeky, sciency, hopefully poetic way about belonging, storytelling, community building, deconstruction and construction,