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Why do people assume teenagers are a 'unique species' which adults struggle to communicate with?

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posted on Jul, 28 2014 @ 04:24 PM
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I ran away a few hundred miles from home (took a bus to be specific) when I was 16, slept on the streets for 5 months, then slowly built my life to the comfortable and pretty chilled existence I enjoy now twenty something years later, as a father of a 16 year old son myself.
When he was aged two I divorced his mother as we realised our sharing a relationship path was simply not working. We didn't hate each other or anything but met young in early 90's rave culture and realised we were no longer compatible as husband and wife so decided on a bitterness free split to instead concentrate on our role as committed parents. I was the one who divorced her because I lost the 'best of three' games at poker and only one of us could be the petitioner under English law, so being mutual, neither of us wanted that title lol. Divorce only cost £50 for the forms from the court, just filled them out ourselves with no need for lawyers, sold the house, paid our joint credit off and split the profit, pretty simple when you take the bitterness away.

Anyway, my son has carried the label of being from a broken home/single parents/blah for most of his life, and there is an apparent social norm assumption that this clearly carries extra disadvantages compared to children in homes where mother and father live together.
In my experience nothing could be further from the truth.

My lad has been with me for 3 or 4 nights every week, and equally with his mother since the age of two. We've shared notes on everything parental and similarly shared all relevant 'son' costs as and when they came up. I've never paid her any 'maintenance' because we both shared the same costs of a two bedroom house with all the things our son needed. Two equal locations for him but a single family 'norm' if you like.

All those years later I've got a really kind, respectful, fun-loving, mature, active and sporty 186cm tall young man who is my most enjoyable companion for pretty much anything in life. We went out illegally into bar and clubland together for the first time on the weekend as he's earning a decent coin working full-time as a qualified lifeguard through the summer until he starts college. We strolled past bouncers/doorstaff as if he was 18, and he bought me a pint for the first time. Brilliant night, got home 3am, had a lay in bed, then went to a cafe for a full English breakfast to fix our hangovers.

Now, here's the thing, my son tells me that he doesn't know anyone in his own peer group who has a relationship with their dad like we have. In fact, a lot of my son's friends will confide things to me that are secrets to their own parents - sometimes I know their dads and don't actually like them, but still offer the same honest advice to their lads because the sins of the father are separate things.

I have included my son in all aspects of my life even when 'straight/respectable' people would 'tut-tut' me if they knew what we did, illegal free outdoor parties or festivals, cliff-jumping into the sea, whatever is fun. My son tells me that most of his friends feel like they were just sent off to play at the adventure park or whatever while growing up so their parents could have an uninterupted coffee/pint, or stroll around the concession stalls at X or Y theme park - I instead would be diving down the 'death slides' having a laugh with my son.

I remember when he was little, I said to someone around a campfire, with my lad asleep on my lap, that I was looking forward to when he was older to enjoy going out with him. The response from pretty much everyone was 'he's not a teenager yet' or 'he won't wanna be seen with you when he's that age' etc, and I was really annoyed that people assume young people/parental relationships are as predefined as that, just because they are hormonal teenagers. I was convinced that teenagers are not some distinct species, they're just people the same as us and maybe if we remember how we thought about life at that age, and actually give a toss about whatever drama is going on in their lives then a strong working relationship is more than possible.
I was proved to be correct in my own parental role.
I also believe most parents could have the same strength of relationship with their teenagers if they made the effort.
Money is not the issue either, and it annoys me when people pull that card. I left it until age 30 to go to college and later university, and 3 or 4 nights per week for a couple of years my lad was on the top bunk bed in a scabby one room bedsit which was all I could afford while working 25 hours per week.
We still built sandcastles at the beach or kicked our £1 football around in the park every day I picked him up from school.

So I ask, why is there an apparent societal acceptance that teenagers are some unique species which adults cannot find common ground with? I don't buy it.
All thoughts welcome here, but I'm more focussing on the flawed assumption that 'teenager' automatically equals unreasonable, and the growing number of TV ad's I've seen where the assumed norm is the moody teenager unable to communicate with their parents. I suggest that if all parents made more effort, talking calmly and listening to their young adults with empathy instead of just barking at them over some minor BS crime, then we would have a much more chilled next generation.

Oh, and if the usual silly types on ATS start crying 'ego post' or 'superiority' or whatever personality related attack please save your effort as I shall just ignore it. This topic is a general conversation about the media/societal image that parents should just accept relationships with teenage kids are automatically likely to be crap. I disagree, and I only have the experiences of my own son and all his mates to share about such things so of course my examples are related to my personal reality.

Please do share your own 'reality' here if this topic interests you.
edit on 28-7-2014 by grainofsand because: Title too long




posted on Jul, 28 2014 @ 04:31 PM
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One kid is simple.



posted on Jul, 28 2014 @ 04:35 PM
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a reply to: grainofsand

I dunno


From what I've gathered over the past several decades, I myself once being a teen and later a parent of two of my own is that many teens/children will listen to and divulge certain things to others rather than their parents, so it doesn't surprise me that they'd talk to you about certain topics they wouldn't with their own parents.

We've always tried to talk straight and openly with our two children. Their friends would say we were 'Cool' parents. I guess we decided a long time ago that we as parents would want our two to come to us about anything without us criticizing or rejecting what was being discussed. It seemed to have worked.

Both my children are now grown adults and today I not only have two children I'm proud of but also two great friends.




posted on Jul, 28 2014 @ 04:39 PM
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Teenagers dont know who they are yet, they dont like to be told what to do.

I dont think its much more complex than that really.



posted on Jul, 28 2014 @ 04:42 PM
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a reply to: Poppcocked
Just have one then. I decided never to have any more after splitting with my lads mam...if only because I knew I could give the time one child needed.
I even had a relationship end with no mallice simply because it came out in a conversation with the girl I loved that I didn't want the responsibility of any more...having multiple children is generally a choice in my experience.



posted on Jul, 28 2014 @ 04:42 PM
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I'd say in general, most teenagers are like small adults, just without the experience and mylenation of their PFC. They usually have hormones through the roof, and are more impulsive than fully mature adults, though are clearly not kids anymore. It's an in between phase, and it really does depend on genetics and upbringing how well the parenting may be for treating a teenager like an adult.

Personally, I would have thrived in an environment where the adults treat me as a reasonable human being. I rebelled because my mother was so authoritative. Because i said so, and it's my house not your room, is an easy way for a teenager capable of reasoning to do their own thing. Some teenagers are different. Some crave authority of those they seek respect of. It really does depend, and I don't think there's any one way about it.

The media perhaps goes towards the majority in some respects. The dominant culture is, or was, quite patriarchal. It made sense to develop the heirarchy, and think of teens as if incapable, kinda sorta?! I don't really know. Most teens are just experimenting, and many make some foolish decisions, but that doesn't mean we should treat them as if lesser than adults. I think it's a bit humorous to watch teens act as they do. Sometimes annoying, but usually I get it.. . I mean, been there... we all have, what's not to get?

edit on 28-7-2014 by pl3bscheese because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 28 2014 @ 04:45 PM
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A lot of it boils down to time more than anything else. It takes time to make your kind of positive effort, and most people are too caught up in work (be it trying to keep it or trying to advance in it) to have the after work time & energy to put that kind of one-on-one time in with their kids. It does seem that many European cultures take that to heart more than Americans do, and I'm assuming it has something to do with their family ethic priority (whereas money leads over here across the pond)

My parents divorced when I was a pre-teen, and I can't identify with your boy as much as I'd want. Work always took precedence for my parents, the bills had to be paid before someone ended up on the street. What helped was having an older brother married to a great woman who filled in as a Big Sister type for me, she was a very positive influence when I needed someone to lean on while my parents were clocked in at work.

Now that I've got 2 of my own, we're trying to make sure attention to them comes before anything else. An hour's worth of "grown up matters" can be back-burnered for another time. A kid's hurt feelings last far longer.



posted on Jul, 28 2014 @ 04:47 PM
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originally posted by: SLAYER69
I guess we decided a long time ago that we as parents would want our two to come to us about anything without us criticizing or rejecting what was being discussed. It seemed to have worked.

Same for me, my lad is not scared to tell me anything no matter what it is about...my mantra is always 'if you don't tell me what is going on then I can't help you fix it', I may force discussion about it afterwards but at the time of a crisis then my job is to be the one person who he knows will give the honest assistance, and every time without just barking at him.



posted on Jul, 28 2014 @ 04:50 PM
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I hope to have a similar outcome with my son.

But this is already a very different world than the one just 10 years ago....and parenting is already inherently hard enough.

I actually think the biggest problem today is not that children are seen as a 'unique species', but rather expected to act and be like adults. You see examples of this in the headlines, comment boards and real-life everyday.

Maybe it's just me, but our general society seems hostile to children in just about every context.


edit on 28-7-2014 by loam because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 28 2014 @ 04:51 PM
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a reply to: grainofsand

Every person is different, and that includes teenagers.

I was very open with my kids, but when it came to hugging and kissing my son goodbye in public I got the "ban hammer". lol... it was okay with my daughter always though.

Their friends would always come over for the food etc and had lots of fun, but there was always that "oh mom", for everything and anything I thought was "cool". Being young or at least younger when you have your children helps, my son and I practically grew up together, though still there were those "mom... your so not cool... lol"

But everyone is different, and everyone has their own relationship with their kids, but sometimes, its easier for a kid to talk to someone else, someone they think wont judge them so much, than it is to talk to their own parents. As open as I was with my kids, and as close as we always were as they were growing up, there were still things they didn't tell me or talk to me about.

That's part of growing up, learning their own independence etc. I suppose, and lets face it... even being only 15 years apart in age from my son, my musical tastes were from a different generation, and what I thought was "right or proper" was too... And thus continues the uncool parent cycle.

Someday, my son will be uncool too... just like me.



posted on Jul, 28 2014 @ 04:53 PM
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originally posted by: pl3bscheese
Personally, I would have thrived in an environment where the adults treat me as a reasonable human being. I rebelled because my mother was so authoritative. Because i said so, and it's my house not your room,

Pretty much the same experience for me, and why I ran away.
It is why I have always worked hard at maintaining my parent-child relationship.



posted on Jul, 28 2014 @ 04:53 PM
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originally posted by: loam

I actually think the biggest problem today is not that children are seen as a 'unique species', but rather expected to act and be like adults. You see examples of this in the headlines, comment boards and real-life everyday.

Maybe it's just me, but our general society seems hostile to children in just about every context.


I tend to agree here, most of my friends have kids, and I notice some of them are expecting much more mature behavior for the ages they are. Let them be kids, it's only a short period of their lives after all. All of us have to act like maniacal idiots for a few early years before we learn how to handle things better. That's such a basic part of growing up.



posted on Jul, 28 2014 @ 04:55 PM
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a reply to: SLAYER69

lol... being the "cool" parent according to the friends doesn't count. I was considered awesome and cool by many of my kids' friends... but never by them... my kids would never admit I was a little bit cool...

hahaha



posted on Jul, 28 2014 @ 04:58 PM
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originally posted by: loam
I hope to have a similar outcome with my son.

I genuinely hope you do as well



posted on Jul, 28 2014 @ 04:58 PM
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a reply to: Nyiah

Exactly.

Most disturbing is the general trend of criminalizing simple child behavior.

Look at what is happening in our schools...or in law enforcement...or correctional institutions where children are concerned.

We are not headed to a good place, imo.








edit on 28-7-2014 by loam because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 28 2014 @ 05:00 PM
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a reply to: OpinionatedB

LOL

Getting my son to keep his room clean was a total disaster no matter how we tried talking to him until High-school and he discovered 'Girls'

One day my son was in his room listening to music and blowing stuff up in some computer game and a girl we knew he had a big crush on dropped by unannounced to say hi. We invited her in and said his room was upstairs, the second door on the right.



Yup, he kept his room clean from that point on...




posted on Jul, 28 2014 @ 05:07 PM
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a reply to: SLAYER69

hahahahaha



posted on Jul, 28 2014 @ 05:08 PM
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a reply to: Biigs

I think you hit the nail on the head. A lot of parents try and fit their children in to the life they envision for the teenager, with zero consideration to what the teenager wants, or will want later.

Doesn't sound like OP tried to force his son to do anything and just allowed him to be.

Take the resentment out of the picture and you are left with a great relationship.



posted on Jul, 28 2014 @ 05:13 PM
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originally posted by: loam
Most disturbing is the general trend of criminalizing simple child behavior.

I agree with that.
I'm lucky that the local police here are pretty chilled out and try to find 'parental recourse' first before making criminals out of young people. My lad has been brought home once in a police car with no official mark on his record or anything after they caught him with a substance he shouldn't legally have been carrying.
No career damaging caution or conviction, and he learned from the experience...that was a sensible and well received policing move by the cops involved and I am glad they play it that way in my part of the world.



posted on Jul, 28 2014 @ 05:15 PM
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a reply to: SLAYER69
That made me chuckle as well!



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