It is an age-old adage that the adults don’t understand the teenagers. “They’re so immature and definitely not ready to be adults!” cry the parents, and the youth retaliate with, “they’re old and smothering and won’t let me be myself!” Obviously, neither side believes that the other is accepting of a different point of view; the adults think that they’re right because they have lived longer and therefore, have more knowledge, and the teenagers think that they’re right because the parents are living in the past. However, as I have experienced more and more things in life, I think that, truly, the adults do not understand us.
1. We do not sleep too much.
It’s almost become a joke in my house that if I’m missing, I’m probably sleeping, but that isn’t a bad thing. This is the time in our lives when we should sleep the most since our bodies are growing and changing, yet most of us get much less than the recommended eight to ten hours per night. We have to catch up on our sleep sometimes, and perhaps society should take it as a cue that we are working too hard, not that we are just lazy.
2. We do not have an issue with working.
3. We are not all overly entitled.
While some of us were born with a silver spoon in our mouths and no way to imagine it ever being gone, the majority of us expect to fight for what we earn. We are taught from a young age that nothing short of hard work, both in and out of the classroom, will get us into that prestigious university, and the familiar saying that "hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard" (Tim Notke) sits in our heads just between the Golden Rule and that Dr. Seuss quote about keeping a goal in mind while you are achieving it. Supports for governmental programs to cut college costs or to extend veterans' benefits come not from entitlement but from a general will to help the country.
4. We are not uneducated about current events.
See Bernie Sanders' political success in the Democratic primaries this year as a testament to what the youth can do when we rally behind a cause. Many high school teachers would also agree that some of the most intense and in-depth political discussions were held by students; this is not a generation that is going to sit silently and allow progression without our involvement.
5. We understand how life was when you were our age.
While you're right, the Internet does change how life works, we take a history class. We understand that the world now is not the same one that you lived in, but there is a reason for that. Humanity innovated to improve our lives and help fix all of the hardships that you are complaining about. Instead of calling us out for being clueless while you complain about how confusing it is to power on your computer, explain to us the lessons you learned by living and make it a worthwhile conversation instead of just trying to make us seem petite and soft.
6. We are not all fanatic revolutionaries just for the sake of being so.
A great many of us have more rational, educated opinions than adults, and these opinions usually include a large section dedicated to humanitarianism, an issue that seemingly fades as people age and become more self-focused. The main causes that are rallied behind are also rational and educated—equality for LGBTQ+, women, all races, animals, etc.—and have been carried on for generations.
7. "It's not a phase, Mom, this is me."
Please accept us for who we are. If this changes often, understand that this is our way of trying to find ourselves. Fundamentally, the teenage years are meant to be in-between and full of self-discovery. Please don't put us down for trying to figure out who we are.
8. We do not hate our families.
I love my family, truly, and my parents have always been incredible. However, I have found that 24 hours in a day are truly not enough; with school, sports, friends and trying to keep a stable health (see #1,) I am lucky sometimes to have a full conversation with my family. Mom, Dad, I promise that I still love you, and I'm sorry that I am never home.
9. We don't think our parents are stupid.
Genuinely, although my parents and I definitely do not see eye-to-eye on many topics, I do not believe that they are stupid, and not many other teenagers their parents are stupid either. Clearly, since this article is being written, there are some differences in understanding and some clear generational differences in political agenda and beliefs, but most teenagers accept their parents different beliefs as something that is natural with a diverse group of humans... unless they're racist or a Trump supporter.
10. Our phones are not replacing genuine conversations.
Phone contact actually helps strengthen relationships by offering round-the-clock advice and friendship support, the ability to bond over memes and a way to share art and/or new music. While hanging out in person, we can take pictures and use maps to allow us to go on new adventures. At the end of the day, we always put our phones away and talk about life; perhaps it is a different friendship than adults may know, but it is full of love and kindness and is enhanced in a new and exciting way.
11. Our lives are not "stress-free" and "meaningless".
While we are not supporting a family, we are supporting our future. We feel the pressures of university upon every assignment, sporting event and interview, and this often snowballs into negative stress. Although admittedly our lives hold less weight, we are often balancing just as many commitments and events as an adult would have on their work calendar.
12. Safe spaces are not necessary because we are overly sensitive.
Safe spaces for LGBTQ+ youth are necessary because discrimination is still a very real issue. Validation places for teens to talk to peers are common in many other areas—church youth groups, group therapy and sports teams are some examples—so why would we not extend the same opportunities to LBGTQ+, who may even be facing situations of dangerous discrimination? Also, words do not "mean nothing." Adults are quick to point out that this generation is the "future of America," so shouldn't society protect the strength of the bud and allow it to flower into its full potential?
13. We are not a "fairy-tale generation"!
By validating and accepting a nonbinary gender system, encouraging transgender expression and showing support for bathroom equality (among many other demonstrations of acceptance,) the younger generation is not living in a state of naivety or "dreamland," in which we believe that if we say we're a unicorn, we're a unicorn. We are merely accepting another human and following the Golden Rule by recognizing them as another fellow human being.