This post: In this crisis, teens are showing how tough they really are.
The other day when I tiptoed into my son’s bedroom to drop off a stack of folded laundry (never knowing if I’m interrupting him in the middle of one of his online classes), I noticed he was at his desk watching a video.
At first, I thought he was in the middle of a video game with his friends or watching a YouTube video, but I quickly realized that he was watching the news – the latest Coronavirus updates and statistics.
He didn’t hear me come in. He had his headphones on and was deep in the throes of watching the video. As I sat on the edge of his bed, I couldn’t help but notice the expression on his face. He was clearly concerned and bothered by what he was watching.
Finally noticing I was there, he turned to me and said, “This is so hard, mom.”
“I know,” I said. “But, just like any other challenge you’ve faced in your life, you will get through this – one day at a time.”
“No,” he said. “It’s not hard on me, necessarily. I mean, yeah, it sucks I won’t get to graduate with my class and I’m upset I won’t be able to go to prom or see my friends any time soon, but what’s really hard is seeing healthy people become so ill so quickly.”
His wise and unselfish words struck a chord with me. It’s not that I didn’t think my son, (who’s a senior in high school and grappling with losing the final season of his senior year) wasn’t feeling what’s been happening, I just didn’t realize that he was feeling so deeply for others at a time when he’s been completely cut off from his everyday life and stands to lose so much himself.
Over the last several days I’ve had many conversations with my kids about the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve watched the news together and watched heart wrenching stories of those who have fallen ill. We’re not immersed in the news… some days it’s just too much to handle. But my kids are informed, compassionate and they care deeply.
In fact, every teenager I know feels deeply about what’s happening in the world. They’re attuned to the latest statistics. They have deep conversations with each other. They talk with friends across town, clear across the country and sometimes even clear across the world who are all dealing with the same issue on a different level depending on their situation.
If there is ever a time for selflessness and altruism, this is it. And, I couldn’t be more proud of the younger generation that is rising to the occasion to mitigate the virus that is sweeping across our globe.
Despite the negative stereotype of the moody, selfish and entitled teenager that’s deeply ingrained in our American philosophy, teens are showing how tough they really are.
Amidst a global pandemic, the likes none of us have ever seen, our kids have been asked to accept the challenge and guidelines of social distancing while dealing with the intense disappointment of canceled events and milestones and a lost semester filled with what should have been school, friends, end-of-year parties, graduation ceremonies, proms, extracurricular activities, and sports. Vacations have been canceled, spring breaks have been wiped off their calendars and, looking forward, they have no idea what their summer holds.
They’re hurting. They’re sad. They’re frustrated. And, many are struggling to find ways to cope, just like many adults.
But, what some people may not realize is that the vast majority of teenagers are also resilient and tough, rational and worldly.
Thanks to technological advancements, the world, and all its happenings have been compressed to the screens on their cell phones. Our teens – 74 million strong in the U.S. alone – are more tuned in to global events, politics and headline news than any previous generation before them. They’re more racially and ethnically accepting than previous generations before them. They embrace dissimilarity and diversity with open arms and their passion for acceptance has paved the way for greater unity in our world. They are the change we needed to see…
Yet, they’ve been criticized for being lazy, entitled and selfish. They’ve been told they’re the phone-obsessed “coddled generation,” ridiculed for being “trophy kids” overindulged and over-praised since birth.
While the Boomers once sat in front of a television with five channels, our kids have access to thousands of channels that have expanded their world, heightened their awareness and increased their empathy for strangers on the other side of the globe.
Make no mistake; they are smarter, more enlightened, more sophisticated and more informed than we ever were.
They’re watching. They’re listening. They’re reading. They’re paying attention and, they care…
Teenagers and young adults have a unique opportunity to mitigate the impact of COVID-19. They understand their calling and, aside from small pockets of kids who haven’t quite grasped the gravity of the situation, (who, by the way, happen to be in the company of plenty of naïve adults), the vast majority are taking it seriously.
No complaining. No whining. No why me. Just quiet compliance despite their sadness, uncertainty, and anxiety. Yes, it’s hard. Yes, they’re struggling. But, they understand why and they’re unselfishly sacrificing for the greater good.
So, the next time someone criticizes a teenager remember, they are unified in their mission doing their part to stay home, practice social distancing and ultimately save lives.
Teenagers, let this be your shout-out to the world once and for all. Let them see who you are. Let this be your chance to hush the critics and silence the naysayers. Thank you for doing your part. We see your efforts and we are so very proud of you.