A Moment in Time for Teens
Listening to our children as they call for action
Posted February 21, 2018
We often rely on the righteous indignation of youth to move forward as a society. We always have. Young people possess the inherent capacity to see what is wrong and to call for change.
The mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, as with too many similar events, takes an emotional toll. As a parent, it’s almost impossible to watch the news. Who among us can bear to stand witness yet again as other parents and students replay their pain? We are left feeling raw. Sometimes feeling numb. Even powerless.
But I am feeling genuinely hopeful now.
A Moment for Teens
Our young people are not growing numb. They are finding and seizing their voices. As we grow weary, they are gaining strength. They are leading the charge. We must look closely at this moment in time – at what is happening -- and listen to our own children as well as the children in our communities. Our youth are idealistic. They are passionate. They are compassionate.
Our children are speaking their truth. Shame on us adults who passively let inequities persist and preventable catastrophes recur. I wish everybody could meet the young people my colleagues and I care for and about every day. How lucky we are to be spectators to their overflowing compassion!
A Call to Action
This is an important moment for adolescents. Our young people want to shape the future they will inherit.They say this is it – the time is now. They refuse to be bystanders. Even amidst tragedy, they find the energy to stand for change. They demand solutions to solvable problems.
This is a moment in time for parents and youth advocates as well. We can help others to take notice. To all who falsely believe youth think they are invincible -- we can suggest they hear adolescents' pain and passion as they demonstrate they hold no such thoughts. Have you ever thought young people are self-centered? If so, we can suggest looking and listening to young peoples’ deeply held ideals for a better world. We can notice how they support each other in the worst of times, knowing that it's human connection from which we all draw strength.
Our teens have given us adults a call to action. We must respond to them by listening to and hearing them, and by giving them the love, support, and encouragement they need to stand up, stay strong, and be the figures of change our society so desperately needs. We must let our youth have this moment and support their push to build a better -- shared -- future.
We mustn't let this moment pass and return to misguided views of youth. We must not disempower them with the low expectations too many adults hold of young people. What we are seeing today is the truth about young people. Adolescence includes struggling to make sense of the senseless and imagining a saner reality. We rely on them to do so. We must shelve the worn and incorrect view that most adolescents are impulsive, thoughtless, or selfish.
We must see adolescents in our homes and our communities as they deserve to be seen. The true face of youth -- with its idealism, passion, and strength. We must prepare them with the knowledge and tools to build us a better world.
This piece was co-authored by Eden Pontz, Executive Producer at the Center for Parent and Teen Communication.