Years and years ago, when I was just 2 and my brother was 3, we lived in Arizona. My mother had bought a fun little tent for us to play in. There was some sort of a half fence between the front yard and the sidewalk and the tent was set up near the house and under a tree. It was our secret hide out! We could play and play and play in it!
One night someone came into the yard and knocked down our tent. What a disappointment it was to get up in the morning and see the destruction! Footprints showed they had walked straight up and over the tent, pulling the grommets right out of the cloth as they did. It was ruined! All my mother could tell us was that some "big bad teenagers" had done it. My brother, who was older than I was and more thoughtful, told my mother, "When I grow up, I will never be a 'teen-ager'!!!"
"Teenager!" It is an interesting term. We never think of warm fuzzies and pleasant tinkling music when we hear it.
Later in my life I heard about a study that had been done where the researchers followed teenagers around all day and recorded the types of interactions they had with others. Their parents, their peers, their teachers. The interactions were categorized as "positive," "negative," or "neutral." To the dismay of the researchers, it was found that 95% of all interactions teenagers were involved in were negative. No one in a teenagers life was saying anything kind. No one was smiling. No one was being supportive and encouraging. Parents yelled at them before they went to school. Teachers showed disgust at them for their lack of discipline or forgetting homework. Peers teased and taunted and manipulated and made fun of them. The study concluded that anyone who had that much negativity in their life would behave badly and lash out at humanity.
I often thought about that study and was glad I knew about it before my children were teenagers. I made an extra effort to always smile and send love with them before they went off to school. Even when I was also frustrated and grumpy at them for various reasons. I knew that a constant barrage of negativity would not help them in any way. And though there were many times when I failed at this goal, I found that I really did like my teenagers! I saw their individuality. I saw their senses of humor. I saw their strength and endurance. Because I didn't fall into the trap of thinking every teenager was a "big, bad, teenager," I got to see them as they really were. Emerging adults in metamorphosis!
How we treat others really does have more of an effect on how we feel about them and how we see them than any other representation. When we focus only on how they treat us or how society perceives them, we lose the chance to see them as they really are!
Teenagers are wonderful! If you have a teenager, remember to hug them and tell them how much you love them. Find genuine ways to compliment them and show them how valuable they are. They need it! You may be the only positive influence they get!
Here's some pics of when I had "big, bad, teen-agers."
I loved them all!