Monday, July 6, 2009

The American Myth of the Teen "Carefree Years"

We've heard it all before. The cliche that adolescence and high school are the "carefree years." The proponents of this myth could not be more wrong.

The teenage years are the most fraught with embarrassment, humiliation, angst, and misery. These are the years when anorexia, bulimia, bullying, drugs, underage drinking, acne, sexual confusion, etc, are everyday struggles for teens.

As a forty-something who has been having the time of his life since age 30, I can attest that the most carefree I have ever been is the present.

Perhaps married people look at their tortured lives and refer back to their single days as carefree years. If that's the case, I pity them.

In more wise societies, the teen years are seen as preparatory years where hard work and toil lead to lives of prosperity and wealth. All but the most savvy Americans believe that to be the case for their children, and we have a generation of poorly prepared "millennials" ruining workplaces the country over as proof.

So reject that myth. Impress upon your children that these are the days of hard work and delayed gratification. As much as my parents got on my nerves about this, I see now they were correct.

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