Lately I’ve felt a strong need to advocate more and more for the teenagers that I work with. I feel like, more and more, as they grow older, they are facing an absolute gauntlet of challenges. I’m convinced that growing up is getting harder and harder and kids are having to face more and more challenges. Each new generation is facing new challenges as the world seems to get more and more complicated. Your kids are, in fact, facing a bigger and more intimidating gauntlet than you did when you were their age. All the older generations talk about simpler times and I would like to see our adults and parents grow more patient and compassionate for kids who are currently approaching adulthood. I don’t think it’s fair or reasonable to expect them to naturally do well in life without help and support. So many of them already feel like failures and what they need is help and support. Here is a list of thing that teenagers have to learn to manage and deal with that you probably didn’t even need to worry about when you were young.
- Sex, sexuality and pornography – I honestly try to avoid discussions with parents about how the internet and technology is bad and ruining younger generations.News flash: Technology and the internet aren’t going anywhere for the time being. They are here to stay. Sex had it’s own revolution decades ago but the internet has ushered in an entirely different and new era. Twenty or so years ago parents could get away with keeping these things taboo but teenagers are standing under a virtual landslide of sex and pornography coming at them. They will see it, they will have access to it and staying quiet about it will only make it more confusing and overwhelming for them.
- The fear of constantly being watched, scrutinized and judged – Social media has made our daily lives so much more public. People that you’ve never met, from the other side of the globe, can look you up, look at your pictures, look at where you live, etc etc. Teenagers are more worried about their peers and their peers tracking them online. I constantly have teens tell me that they get anxious about their peers scrutinizing them online via social media. Teens are wrapped up in their peers anyways but the information age has enabled kids to dip into each others lives in ways that were never possible. Teenagers are legitimately concerned about this.
- Cyber bullying – Kids can be extremely cruel to each other and public schools can sometimes turn into a sequel to “The Lord of the Flies.” I think every kid gets picked on to some degree at school. I remember getting picked on at school and finding sanctuary at home. Bullies can use cell phones and the internet to bully kids even outside of school. For some kids, there isn’t much of a sanctuary when they get home, the bullying continues via technology.
- Life responsibilities – Let’s be honest, life is getting more and more complicated as the years go by. Adulthood is so overwhelming and difficult. Even I struggle with it sometimes. Insurance, taxes, retirement investments, college, student loans, mortgages, credit scores, car problems, renting, financing, it never ends. And it’s not getting easier, it’s only increasing and getting worse. Most teens will not be ready to enter adulthood when they hit 18. You may have been ready but things were very different for you.
- A bigger selection of drugs – Teenagers have been experimenting with drugs for decades. But in the last ten years, the drug world has virtually exploded. There are so many different drugs coming and going in the form of synthetic plants, to chemicals and all kinds of variations of those drugs. It’s become extremely difficult to keep up with it. The government can’t stay ahead of all the drugs because they come and go so fast and people are able to change the chemical compositions so quickly and easily that they are literally staying a few steps ahead of law enforcement. Kids are getting bombarded. There are different variations of heroin and meth, there are bath salts and spice. If peers tell them to do a drug that they have never heard of and they are told that it is harmless, they might just go ahead and do it. Some of these drug variants have some really bad side effects as well.
- Mental illnesses – For whatever reason, we are seeing a spike in mental health issues with teenagers. They are more depressed and anxious than they have ever been. Here in my home state of Utah, suicide has been named the number one cause of death for kids between the ages of 11 and 17. Cases of autism and autistic spectrum disorders continues to spike too. More and more teenagers are facing mental health issues that most parents find to be strange or baffling.
**If you need help navigating these problems with your teenager and within your family, I hope that you will give me the opportunity to be a part of the positive change that is need in your home. Give me a call and shoot me an email for a free consultation!