September 4, 2017
When we reflect on our teen years, most of us realize that it was a struggle for individuality while conforming where we had to to preserve a sense of self within the pack order of middle and high school. The enlightened children with a strong core belief in self rarely conform as they are already on their path to individuality. They are more the exception than the rule.
What really matters in a teen's life? Friends? Clothes? Appearance? Learning? Fitting in?
All of the above. Teens are by nature a petulant, growing, angst filled creatures trying to fit in society. They want to be loved by their parents even when they act the entirely opposite way. They need to explore everything to find out how their sense of self aligns within the group and life.
As parents, it is our job to help them with constant love as they struggle with this identity crisis. Encouraging the individual is key as this is the route to self esteem. Generally, honoring your individual gifts and working hard to be grateful for them is a key to happiness.
While one honors their gifts, they may run afoul of the average group mentality. This can be traumatic for a teen. The polarity of America currently was predicted in the Fourth Turning by Neil Howe and William Strauss. It is a time where people judge excessively and act often as judge and jury via social media. We as parents need to guide our kids to know that these opinions mean absolutely NOTHING! Truly nothing. These judgements are morally reprehensible and should have no place in a quality society. Alas, they are here and our kids are dealing with them.
If your teen gets into an idiotic conversation about who is better based on race, color, creed or gender, help them shift the discussion to the individual only. There is no way that a race, color, creed or gender is the reason behind success or failure from a virtue perspective. This is an individual's choice, nothing more. The individual that follows a morally failing group is a failure by choice as are all of the individuals in that group.
Your teen, yourself and all of us should be solely self judging on our moral virtue. Then, when we fail or find self loathing, we turn to last weeks self compassion discussion and restart towards a better personal path. Help your striving teen learn from each choice. This is the path to individuality with a moral code.
Consider taking your teen on a mission trip this year to see another view of the world that can have a profound effect of resetting their view of American judgemental silliness. When you see a child struggling to eat, it hits you in the core where we find our survival instincts and has a way of making many teenage trivialities fade.
We must remember that these are difficult times and that polarity is the norm now, however, none of us need be polarized. We all have a choice to eschew this way of thinking in favor of the individual that is morally astute, pro growth minded, self compassionate and always learning all the while never using race, religion, gender or appearance as a reason to judge or reject.
Dr. Seuss said it best:
Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.
Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!
Be an individual at every age with a moral code that would make your grand parents and your children proud. Lead by example so that your children learn to avoid judging and self loathing.