On the dislike of teenagers

I was sitting with a group of (lovely) ladies a few weeks back and the topic of teenagers came up. Perhaps forgetting that I actually choose to work with this vicious species on a daily basis, they described them in less than complimentary terms. One lady piped up “Well, you must remember, we’re living in the age of the narcissist.”

I don’t necessarily disagree with her premise, but her accusatory tone made me feel surprisingly defensive of this generation that is both loathed and feared by much of society. Teenagers, beneath their narcissism and behind the luminous screens of their smart phones, are precious individuals who are finding their way in the world and forging a new path for our future.

Teenagers hold our future whether we like it or not, and before we despair or shake our fists, we do well to look at where they came from. If a teenager is narcissistic, who did they learn it from? If they can’t function without technology, who gave it to them? If they are undisciplined or entitled or lacking respect, who is the generation who raised them?

The last thing that teenagers need is our condescension. They are not the enemy, and if we treat them as such we draw battle lines for a war that will have no victor. Teenagers need the love and support of society. They need freedom and boundaries, encouragement and discipline. Our condemnation foolishly despises that which we, as a village, have raised ourselves.

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No offense… but I’m about to say something really offensive

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Do you get nervous when someone starts their sentence with ‘no offense?’ I do. It’s like the perfect guilt-free segue into something truly offensive.

It was rife when I was a teenager, and I cringe to hear that it’s still around.

No offense, but that jumper looks way better on her.

No offense, but your life is pretty boring

No offense, but it’s not like you’re that smart

Woah, you probably shouldn’t be eating that… but, like, no offense

No offense, but I don’t think he’d go for you. Sorry, just saying…

Well maybe just don’t say. Because your ‘sorry not sorry’ isn’t working for me. Or for anyone for that matter.

So, before you throw out a casual ‘no offense,’ think about what you’re actually saying: “I want to say whatever horrible thing comes into my mind, but before I feel bad about it, I’ll qualify it and erase my guilt. Cos, I mean, it’s not my fault if you got offended when I told you not to!”

 Honey, we all want you to know something: You’re offensive. And your attempts at masking it aren’t working.