Why teens have a bleak view of the system and society around them. A short reply.
Generally speaking, a large and ever increasing number of young people are looking at life from a negative perspective. Though there are many, many reasons for it, one reason is that they have a tremendous amount of pressure put on them. Pressures that we could not have imagined in our younger days. Most young people today are pushed along so fast that they, in many cases, are denied the basic act of just being children. When I was 14 or so I went to school and faired well but I, in general, was still a kid. Today a 14-year-old person is expected to act and think as a perfect adult. They are forced to think about and make decisions about issues, which most of us still have never had to face in our life. This added to the fact that most do not have a strong family and value system to fall back on.
If you are 14-years-old and are under the impression that there are no absolutes in life and you are expected to make absolute decisions, things can tend to look pretty hopeless. Not to mention that we live in a very me oriented society today where everyone is expected to portray this strong sense of “who they are.” Well enough of that, the bottom line is that for many reasons the system, for many young people, just does not work. It does not provide the availability of the kind of good life that was available for example when I was young. When I was 14 the biggest worries on my mind were; how late can I stay out and play ditch-em? Will my bike tire stay up long enough for me to get to the corner coin shop in town, where I could buy the old coin that was missing from my collection, which I had been saving up for? My final worry of the day; After my mom calls me in, can I eat dinner and do my homework and watch my favorite TV show all before lights out.
A quick note on the advantages of kids playing ditch-em. (ditch-em = a team version of hide and go seek)
Out there in the dark with just about every kid you knew, or at least cared to know at the time, you began to discover a lot about who you were and where you fit in, in life. This is missing in the lives of many children today. Ditch-em required a lot of basic but essential life skills. You had to be in shape, if you were not, you would be by summer’s end. You had to do a lot of quick thinking and decision making, most of it on the run with your heart pounding hard enough to nearly rip through your jacket. We were quite serious about the game, after all it was to us, not a game but real life.
All of our school issues as well as personal and social issues were worked out in those dark exhausting sweat soaked nights. We knew each other as well as we knew our own selves. We learned our shortcomings and our strong points and those of others. We had no need to judge each other because we knew that each of us had flaws and perfections. We learned that by pulling together our variety of strengths and covering for each other’s weaknesses we could become a powerful team force. We even had this one little guy that seemed to have no physical strong points at all but he was really smart, so we teamed him up with the biggest guy on the team and together their total ability was as to that of four kids.
The base rules and values that we played by were the ones that we grew up with at home and they were pretty consistent from house to house and neighborhood to neighborhood. We all gained confidence in the fact that wherever we fit in, in life, we could dig in and succeed. We never strayed far from the trail because we did not want to suffer the consequences of dad’s anger and mom’s feelings being hurt. We were taught good from bad. We were rewarded for doing good and feared doing bad, but never feared trying, even if we messed up and made mistakes.