So often I hear people talking about this generation of teenagers and young adults in such a negative manner. Never really showing them respect for who they are, or the choices they are making. Always assuming the worst before they even have a chance to show themselves better , and often just not giving them the benefit of the doubt. I get very frustrated by this because I feel that many of these teenagers would give respect if they were shown respect. It has been a method that has proven itself very true in our home. I have always shown respect to my children, and expect it in return.
I had the privilege of spending this past weekend with my three oldest daughters who are 16, 18, and 20, and my 24 year old niece. We spent the weekend hanging out together in Toronto, and I was able to enjoy being around four very amazing, unique and intelligent young woman. I watched them, and listened to them, and felt very proud. I had to sit back sometimes and not engage in the conversation, but just listen and learn from them.
Sometimes as adults, and especially as parents, we just do not give our kids the time they need to be heard. It is so very important to communicate with our significant others and if not just to improve and strengthen our marriages and friendships, then to demonstrate the importance of communicating and let our children see that happening in a healthy relationship every day.
When you stop and listening to your teenagers, you soon learn that they are very smart. They know a lot, and they learn a lot from the things that are happening around them every day. We live in a very fast paced, tech filled, go go go, society, and things are advancing at a pace that is nearly impossible to keep up with. I am just blown away at how much this generation knows at such a young age when it comes to technology, but also how young they are learning about all aspects of adulthood. I don't want to seem like I don't want this to happen...I don't really have a choice, but our children are forced to grow up so fast, and learn so much more then we ever dealt with growing up. It was simpler and slower, and I think easier for us. Our teenagers and young adults have to deal with so much more, and I must say, the four girls that I spent the weekend with are doing a great job dealing!!
We talked a little bit over lunch about raising kids, "bad" kids, and how they were disciplined growing up. As I listened, the girls explained how more than anything, they did not want to disappoint us as parents, and if they knew that my feelings were hurt, or that I was disappointed with them, then they would feel disappointed in their own behaviour, and change it. Ultimately, they would base their choices on feelings, mine and theirs. They wanted me to feel proud of them, or pleased with their accomplishment, but I think they were building character in themselves. Trust, respect, caring, responsibility.....all things that I saw in these girls this weekend.
What I wonder, is do we care that much about their feelings? Do we trust them, respect them, do we care enough and are we showing them responsibility as adults? If they see us being disrespectful to the elderly, or the cashier at the grocery store, or the slow driver in front of us, do they learn to then be disrespectful? If they see us being irresponsibly with our choices...drinking, smoking, swearing inappropriatly, do they then learn to then be irresponsible with these things? We all know that the answer to these questions, is yes. We all know that children model what they see, and they learn from the environment they grow up in. Disrespectful parenting breeds disrespectful children. It is on us.
So what I learned from hanging out with these amazing young woman this weekend, is that they deserve to be respected. Even though I have not always modelled the best behaviour as a mother, I have always shown them respect. Even from a very young age, I let them express their feelings, or explain why they were upset, or what they thought the best method of discipline would be. I let them do this, and I would take their feelings into account. It didn't mean that I would always do what they wanted, but they at least felt "heard" and understood. "I understand that you want to stay up later because you are older, but that is too late for you, and your body needs more rest then what you are suggesting." A respectful answer even after letting the child be heard. It works because everyone just wants to be heard.
Spend some time with your teenagers. Give them a chance. Talk to them in a respectful way without judging or assuming the very worst. And do this for all teenagers, not just your own children. Things are difficult enough for this generation these days. Let's support and build up and be positive about what they have to offer, and they will give back to us.
So blessed to have spent the weekend with these amazing young woman!!