I love working with teens. I have spent the past years working in a middle school.
Middle school? Can you believe it?
The two years of my life I would never want to live again and I choose to go back!? I tell the kids all of the time, "It can't be that bad if all of these teachers and staff chose to come back here, year after year."
But really, I meet so many great kids. Some are so obviously great right from the moment you meet them. Some….well, let’s just say, it takes time and patience to earn enough of their trust to let you in, But man when they do, there is nothing like it!
I met this young girl while she was in middle school. She was so nice, she had a great sense of humor and was so very thoughtful.
I found out through other teachers that she was very disrespectful in class
-Flipping teachers off
-Cursing at them and other students
-Getting into fights
-Dating a new boy every week, and when I say dating, I mean really getting involved.
When I heard of all this, I recalled the funny and even sweet girl I had come to know. As I got to know her better, I learned of so much messy in her life. She was really developing her identity in the midst of utter chaos.
There is a quote in our Staff room that say “The kids who need love the most ask for it in the most unloving of ways” This about sums it up!
So many girls today struggle with confidence, bullying and appropriate self expression in a world where so much of our private lives are public.
The internet has opened up our eyes, our homes and our lives!
This is not an internet shaming article though. This is they new world, the way we live now. No amount of shaming or guilt will change that. Keep in mind, the teen girls (and boys) of today, only know THIS world.
Building your identity takes time, energy, awareness, knowledge and knowing it is not only possible but it is in our own hands!
What can we do to help these teens?
It starts at home. Connection. It can be so hard sometimes to stuff our ego and treat teens like lesser beings (they really can act like it sometimes). Just remember, they are young people developing their identity through choices. They need us the most at this point and we often respond by pulling away when they do.
Seek out help! It takes a village after all. Use your resources, programs, family and friends. Mentors should be available at the ready!. It doesn't even have to be a formal arrangement. I remember sending my 16 year old son to his grandparents out of state recently to get some time with Papa. He and his Papa are close and there has always been mutual respect and love in their relationship. His parents (all four of us in his blended family) were just to invested in the outcome of certain choices he was struggling to make at the time. We most definitely would have tried to sway him one way or another. Papa would surely be able to keep his needs and desires at the focus! And her did! Find people you trust and let them help with support and/or a listening ear.
Most importantly! Know that you are enough and doing the best you can! If you are reading these blogs and seeking help and support, you are doing great work! Plant the seeds, water them and harvesting often comes much later.