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11 February 2013 @ 11:12 pm
Chatter Post: Mon, Feb 11, 2012  
Feb 11, right?  Something like that....

Whew, at this rate I'll be 65 before I know where my shoes are.  Man... a whole month of 2013 gone, like, two weeks ago, and I'm still getting used to the fact that it's a new year.

- Week 1 Poll!  Be sure to leave feedback and let these great authors know you're reading!
- Week 2 Topic. It's for the birds.
- Edits?  Yes, please!
- Some enlightenment for you.

Long day for me.  I worked 8-6, got my annual review at work -- went OK.  Did an hour of cardio, then shopping and errands.  Finished making dinner at 9pm, and it's chatter post, then bedtime.  All work and no play makes Jacques a dull boy.

So I was driving to work and listening to one of those morning shows, and it got on my nerves.  The show was the "Couple's Court", and the listeners were asked to decide on a disagreement between a wife and husband.  The wife wanted their 18-year-old babysitter to be allowed to bring her boyfriend with her to babysit.  The husband strongly disagreed.  A heated public argument, and cue the listeners.

Of course, the listeners then spent the next half hour spouting on about how "kids in this day and age" are sex crazed, and this was obviously a thinly veiled cover for a sex-crazed night at their expense.  Teenagers can't be trusted, they're probably doing drugs, they're going to corrupt these children, males shouldn't be allowed in a babysitting capacity, and on and on and on.

I remember right before my 13th birthday. I spent a couple days taking a mental breath of air and releasing it before the birthday.  I knew that this was more than the start of my 13th birthday -- it was the the beginning of a 7-year period where I stopped being me and started being a "teenager", and everything that goes with it.

For example:
  • I was watched in stores, openly, by managers to see if I was stealing things.  I was not.
  • If I did something right, I was not praised in a personal way, but in the context of my being an exemplary teenager.
  • I was presumed irresponsible.
  • I was presumed destructive, and "up to something".
  • My minor successes were large successes because they were good "for my age"
  • I did not need to be paid well for my work at places of employment
  • Others who were older should be respected immediately and arbitrarily by virtue of their age -- I was not entitled to the same.
  • If something was destroyed or vandalized, it was a teenager's fault.
  • I am not as wise or talented or as capable as Random Adult
  • As a male teenager, I am basically a sexual predator.
  • I drink soda, eat junk food, and sleep until noon on weekends.
  • I'm probably shallow, fickle, and materialistic.
I see these values endure as I live my adult life -- just not to me anymore.  But, truth be told, the kids I see are inexperienced versions of the adults they become.  And I don't think we do them any service whatsoever by making them automatic suspects, treating them with disrespect, or looking down on them.  This is not a college frat house -- they do not require hazing.

I think this is a serious problem, and that it's something that each young person must overcome as they struggle to become responsible adults. I think it models discrimination, teaches that control breeds respect, and provides only a counterexample to how people should treat one another.  In short: we're doing it wrong.

I believe that teenagers become the best people they can be when they're treated like they already are their best possible self.  I think that it's OK for a convenience store owner to lose a candy bar here or there if they're buying a culture of respect from not watching those "damn kids" like hawks.  I think it's fair to think that, perhaps, legal adults are the cause of that vandalism, that the teenager in the car crash might not have been speeding, and it's OK to give a teenager responsibility -- with the understanding that there is at least a learning opportunity in the investment.  I think that there's a line between correctly inferencing a teenager's behavior and indulging in ageism. And I could be wrong -- maybe your experiences as a teenager are completely different than mine. What do you think?

Are the assumptions made about teenagers deserved, or is this a form of ageism?
Current Location: Home -- No Cats Today :,-(
Current Mood: hungryhungry
Current Music: Bat out of Hell -- Meatloaf (turntable.fm)
Innana88innana88 on February 12th, 2013 04:37 am (UTC)
I always looked much older than what I was as a teenager, so I escaped a lot of the prejudices against teens. When I was thirteen, someone mistook me for a twenty-one year-old at a wedding, much to his embarrassment. When I was sixteen, people thought I was twenty-two. Consequently, I don't know that I was all that aware of this when I was a teenager, but I certainly hear it now. Yes, I do think it is ageist and unfair. People often rise to the level of expectations set for them, and if we don't expect much from teens, we aren't going to create oppotunities for them and they may be more likely to meet our low expectations.

About the babysitter, well, I remember being a teenager and babysitting and having a male friend who lived down the street stop by briefly. It was totally harmless. The parents had never said it wasn't okay, but I questioned my own judgment on that at the time. As a soon-to-be parent, I would likely tell the babysitter that it wasn't okay outright, but I wouldn't do that because I thought they'd have sex, but because I'd be worried that she'd be distracted and not watch my child(ren) as closely. I remember being highly distractable as a result of romance at that age and even several years beyond that age.

*This was a trend that thankfully reversed itself once I got to my mid-twenties when I suddenly appeared to grow younger. :) Now, I think I just look my age, which is fine with me.
Innana88innana88 on February 12th, 2013 04:42 am (UTC)
Oh, and I'd be totally okay with a male babysitter! That's another stereotype that drives me bonkers! I wrote 'she' because the babysitter was a female in the example.

Edited at 2013-02-12 04:42 am (UTC)
Jacqueslacombe on April 2nd, 2013 04:20 pm (UTC)
The generations thing gets to me too. The derision of the old for the young can be seen when you think of "Generation X" and "Generation Y", as if they're just this stale, useless, unoriginal heap. Turned out to be some of the biggest innovators in the history of mankind, too.

I worked with a woman that was very small and had youthful features. It was incredible how people struggled to treat her like an adult. Most failed, and told her how adorable she was, etc. She had a master's and was never taken seriously for her work.
Katniliwen on February 12th, 2013 06:26 am (UTC)
So true, Jacques!

By my parents' standards, my siblings and I are complete angels compared to them. Part of this I attribute to having grown up in a youth community, where I was trained to take responsibility and to look out for other people. The rest was probably due to our respective temperaments. However the point was that we were treated as being accountable for ourselves and capable of doing some good.

I could see that the kids in the community whose parents treated the entire thing like a reform institution were the ones who turned out sullen, with lower expectations and more problematic. However when parents trusted their kids, good things did happen. Not all the time but often.

Part of why I write the stories I do about Marce, Ida, etc (the lovable cast I've had here for years on the Flame) is to write about teens who defy the stereotype. Instead of vapid, sex-obsessed, materialistic, egotistic, and aimless characters, I write about people who have depth, the strength to work through real life issues, and have the capacity for heroism. The latter reflects the life I did know among my friends and even among some people today. In a way, I write to redeem my generation.
Jacqueslacombe on April 2nd, 2013 04:23 pm (UTC)
I was thinking about this the other day while cooking. I remembered back to being a teacher in Iowa. The teachers always had this "Kids who are going to college"/"Failures" dichotomy. The mentality was that if the kids weren't going to college, they were going to be stoners as soon as they left school. I wonder how many people they doomed with that attitude -- college does not necessarily embody a successful life.
Aquarius Galuxyaquarius_galuxy on February 12th, 2013 04:39 pm (UTC)
I would say to further divide teenagers by their background/upbringing... So teenagers with a certain upbringing have a higher chance of being responsible than teenagers of another sort of upbringing.

Right now at my workplace, there's a guy my age who's really immature... passive-aggressive, shallow, chauvinistic, you name it. He wasn't all that well-educated though, not too intelligent either, and the stereotype here is that students from certain schools are more responsible than students from other schools. He definitely is not helping that stereotype, though I have friends who do not follow that stereotype (phew).

I don't remember being discriminated against much as a teenager. I worked at a temporary job and was pretty good at it, and I travelled overseas with my friends on a 5-day trip, with no bad consequences. Over here, pay is determined more by academic qualifications than by age.

Edited at 2013-02-12 04:47 pm (UTC)
Jacqueslacombe on April 2nd, 2013 04:26 pm (UTC)
In the USA, there are a lot of spoiled kids -- whose parents fight anyone who says that their kids didn't do well enough (they don't always do well enough), and gave them everything they ever wanted and more. I personally don't think parents like that are doing their kids any favors. Sure, they've built up their confidence, but now they're cocky and feel entitled, and as soon as their ass hits the pavement, that confidence is going to shatter, and there they are with no experience or developed coping skills.
Aquarius Galuxyaquarius_galuxy on April 8th, 2013 01:41 pm (UTC)
yeah, I agree =p (over here, parents overwork their kids =p)
(Deleted comment)
Jacqueslacombe on April 2nd, 2013 04:28 pm (UTC)
I like you.

I agree. I'd add that adults tend to shake off the accomplishments of kids today as well. I look back at all the work I did in college (and would have done in high school, if I'd been a good student back then), and if I was still living that schedule today, I don't know what I'd do. They go to school all day, sometimes do homework all night, and still make time for sports, clubs, and other vocationals. It's really a tremendous accomplishment.
Lynniepelethetart on February 12th, 2013 09:29 pm (UTC)
As the parent of a teen boy (and subsequent "honorary" mother of a tribe of teen boys)- it is ABSOLUTELY agism.

When talking about my son and his friends, with people who do not have kids at all, I am always told that my good kid is an abnormality because they know one that... ONE. One does not define an entire generation!

Yes they are boys, they get raucous. I allow them to shoot bb's at targets in the backyard. They wore camo's and santa clothes at Halloween and went to a restaurant . They went sledding the other night at 10:30pm, but evidently when someone approached them to sell them weed, they all turned the person down.

They hang out and play video games. They drive around and go to stores and play with the toys in the toy departments and comment on the knife and gun dept items, making wish lists.

They are not however buying those things to hold up stores or old people. They wear their pants pulled up. They joke crudely but it's just joking. None of them have knocked a girl up...ever. One smokes, one does chew, both respect our home enough to not do it here.

We have teens who, in summer will walk around the village at 2am because there is really nothing else to do. Sometimes they are loud but they aren't wrecking houses, casing places, spray painting anything...they are walking and joking and just being teens.

I've heard so many say how all teen girls are just trying to be MTV whores and it's so...gah! My 16 yo neighbor girl is WONDERFUL! She works every day serving meals at an old folks home, including cutting up their food for them and feeding them. She is sassy and funny. She calls me when she needs help and is home alone instead of having guys come over.
And she is the rule of the teen girls I know, save one.

And yes, I know exceptions. I've watched, with heartache, as some of my son's friends from middle school have made some extremely bad choices and gone down less-than-desirable paths. In all of those instances, I blame the parents. Without fail in every one that I know personally the parents have failed to take action, have allowed their kids to slip away or were simply not there at all (one actually is more of a partier than her kids, which is terrifying).

There are always the exceptions and sadly people only hear of them and place them as the rule...which angers me when I am so fortunate to know so many wonderful teens, including my own amazing-yet-less-than-perfect son.
Jacqueslacombe on April 2nd, 2013 04:33 pm (UTC)
Man, Lynnie, I've read this three times on different days since you posted it, and each time, I really miss being a kid.

Their creativity, youthfulness, imagination, spontaneity, and the willingness to see the world as a new and exciting place -- that's something I've been criticizing myself for letting go a lot lately. Too much of that all work and no play stuff -- and being productive vs. living my life.

If I can be youthful vicariously through my kids someday, maybe I won't be a bad dad after all. I can see their youth through your words.
Being Bardibardiphouka on February 16th, 2013 12:52 pm (UTC)
Jacqueslacombe on April 2nd, 2013 04:28 pm (UTC)
Ah, yes. :-)