Here are the things that are definitely true about all teenagers:
They are an age that ends in “-teen.”
That’s pretty much it.
Anything else we might say or that might frequently be said about teenagers may be true of some of them, but it’s not true of all of them. And we need to be careful about generalizations either way, because they don’t serve our teens or their parents well.
Take “teenagers are lazy, entitled, and spoiled.” Maybe some of them are. But I happen to know teenagers who are some of the most grateful, hard-working people I’ve ever met.
Or “teenagers have too much pressure on them and it’s our fault.” Maybe some of them do and maybe some of their parents are to blame. But I know parents who are always trying to pull their driven big kids back from the edge.
“Teenagers sleep too much.” Maybe some do. But teenagers require a lot of sleep, and their body clocks are not wired to go to bed at 9 and wake up at 5. This is not laziness, it’s biology. And, also on account of biology, some teens can’t get enough sleep.
“Teenagers are moody.” Maybe a lot of them are. But if by this we mean they have different moods because they are people, not robots, then why wouldn’t—shouldn’t—they be “moody”?
“Teenagers don’t think about the consequences of their actions.” Maybe they don’t a lot of the time. But the part of their brains responsible for this kind of thinking is still under construction. And it’s slow work because their brains are busy thinking about ALL THE OTHER THINGS, like what they’re going to do with their lives and how to fit in and stand out at the same time and whether that person who was their friend yesterday will still be their friend today.
“Teenagers only think about themselves.” Maybe some of them do. But I know lots of teenagers who think about others all the time and spend their time doing good, meaningful things inspired by what they’ve thought.
Looking at this list, maybe there are a few more generalizations we can make about teenagers.
They need our love, guidance, boundaries, patience, and understanding.
They are unique, valuable individuals.
They are our future.
This post originally appeared at Guilty Chocoholic Mama, published with permission. Be sure to also check out Elizabeth’s book, Known By His Names: A 365-Day Journey from the Beginning to Amen.