Teen Talk

Last weekend, I was travelling by bus from Jaipur to Manesar. I had an aisle seat and adjacent to me (across the aisle) were 4 boys. Here’s a brief profile of my 4 young co-passengers:

  • Teenagers with little light fuzz over the upper lip and some stray hairs around the chin.
  • Their branded Jeans and shoes along with with the Blackberries and iPods suggested they being from affluent background.

They were a bunch of boisterous teens, laughing and talking loudly and animatedly. From their conversation, I guessed they were in class 12.

I was busy reading amidst their cheerful banter and suddenly it was all quiet around me. I looked up and saw that one of them was dialling a number on his mobile. Once his line got connected he spoke to a caretaker of a flat at Delhi. This young boy asked the fellow on the other end, if he had money with him. I guess, the caretaker answered in affirmative because the boy next asked him to arrange for a bottle of Royal Stag!!

I was shocked and this turned into a deeper shock when at mid-way, three of them were smoking nonchalantly! And soon they were discussing about girls!

I looked at them again and they still looked like kids to me despite their indulgence in things which should be off limits for them at this age.

I wondered if the parents knew about their kid’s new behavioural and personality changes!

Then, the other day, I was in the washroom at a shopping mall and just then a girl came running in. She had a mobile in her hand which was ringing. She took a deep breath and answered the phone call and I heard her saying, “I am in the college!”.

While just yesterday, we were discussing about the ‘Facebook and kids’ and a father of a teenager shared that he was in his son’s friend list. A few times it happened so that whenever the son posted pictures or status updates which were unpalatable to the parents, the parents would immediately take it up with the kid and the usual routine of parental questions and sermons would follow. And now the father observed that his son’s wall on FB is virtually clean. When a friend explained that the kid had changed/controlled his news feeds settings, the father was simply flabbergasted!

I believe that a parent is the builder of his/her child’s life, rest of the people around are the sub-contractors. As a parent, one can instill values and principles in a child.

Having said that, I also wonder, how much can a parent monitor or control the whereabouts  or activities of the child. Given their age and immaturity, it is so easy get influenced by peers and the technology explosion around.

Being a teenager and handling a teenager today is so very different than being one some 10-15 years ago.

So, does that mean that if a teenager is going on a path which has lots of unsavoury bumps, the parents are to be blamed?? 

I guess, they are responsible for this partially, if not completely (only if they worked on the basics of parenting a teenage!). Because, a child may still CHOOSE to lead a life which is different from the principles taught by the parents.

I believe, the 2 am feeds or that incessant crying in the middle of night or those frequent dealings with the tantrums of the terrible twos or the whiny threes, is cakewalk as compared to handling teenagers of today!

And teenagers of tomorrow??… an icy cold shiver has run down my spine!!

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21 thoughts on “Teen Talk

  1. I completely understand what you must be thinking about! I have seen similar things too! people start wrong habits at a very young age..how can you even blame parents cos they are not always at fault..friends have a very very bad influence these days..today people consider smoking and drinking “cool”..having said that I don’t see anything wrong in it, but there is time, limit and age for everything!

  2. You have points that are glaring and disturbing for any parent. Is the tech explosion that is the factor?
    Are teenagers distanced from their parents?Do they miss the comfort of”home”?
    The answer I guess may be a mixpod.

  3. Yes, it is difficult to bring up kids with “right” values these days. But we can only do our best and hope they have a sensible head on their shoulders when faced with all the choices of life! Actually its not so gloomy, many teenagers are still quite mature and they do understand what is good for them and what is not.

  4. indeed its tough to raise teenagers these days … with so many options at disposal… things becoming easily accessible, i wonder upto what extend a parent can go in controlling their children.

  5. Shilpa, even though I hope to have given the moral inputs, I still am scared to face situations like these…u see, there are many around us to make us act bad. It takes a lot of conviction from the child’s point to say yes to bad things, like even lying to parents. I hope that I’ve given that conviction to my girls.

    The gadgets, the freedom to use them at all places sometimes terrifies me…

  6. I loved your post Shilpa, and after reading it, I’m feeling quite psyched out…teenage today is really different from ‘our’ teenage. Our idea of fun was a movie and popcorn!! How lame 🙂 but at the same time, how safe too, for ourselves and for our family as well. Kids today take EVERYTHING for granted.

  7. I will tell you an instance, I know a couple from an upper middle class family. We were going to a picnic in a large group and that couple has two kids both below 10 yrs of age. The husband and wife were having breezers, and very casually the kids asked for it and the mom passed it to them for having sips, all under the pretext of “Breezer mein kitna Alcohol hota hai.. almost nothing.”

    I was shocked, disturbed, enraged but then they are the parents. In our era we were sure that parents knew the best but today I have my doubts.

  8. You’re so right, Shilpa! Today’s teenagers are so much more susceptible to their surrounding! Yes parental negligence leads them to take the wrong path, no doubt, but factors like the ones you mentioned- peers, technological boom, etc.- also influence their actions. It scares me, to say the least, when I think of my daughter’s future!

    Loved this post. Very thought-provoking!

  9. Todays Teenagers.. Well situation gone out of hand .. I rmember when i was in 12th class.. I was so afraid of my prents finding out , i dont say i did not do silly things but it wa not as bad as now..

    Parents have given a open hand to kids,may be cause both parents are working now dont have that much time as my parents had .. money is avaialble..

    My parents always wanted to know WHY i needed the money.. they never said NO but it had to be a for a reason..

    Parents need to be taught prenting SIMPLE..

    Bikram’s

  10. A teenagers parents would be in their forties.
    Both the parents of present modern age have become professionals and are fighting with the rest of the world for their space in competitive world.
    And Why not?
    But ,that leaves little time to bring up the kids and before they realise, kids have grown up to become teenagers.
    In the last about 15 yrs, our priorities have changed or gone wrong.With extra disposable income in hand and less of time with the parents,can we really blame the teenagers going wrong?

  11. For teens of this gen there are more avenues/opportunities/ possibilities to stray from the path parents would like to. I am not going to say what a parent could do cos am just started fitting into the parental shoes 😉

  12. A very valid post Shilpa with a lot of relevant points raised.
    It jsut gos to prove again that parenting is much much more than just feeding and taking care of a kid.
    With all the technology and changing environment around, it takes a slip of a second for a kid to be misdirected.
    And we as parents often tend the cross the lines between being a friend to them to being overprotective to them.
    And yes, all this makes me also too anxious to just overprotect my growing kid
    But, based on the way I grew up I want to stick to one basic principle:trust your kid and let them know that you trust them. No matter what they do or whether it is right or wrong, as long as he can come and talk to me about it, I am sure everything can be worked out.

  13. It is so scary, Shilpa! And it sends shivers down my spine, that I might be a parent of a child like this in the near future…

    I think the parents do have a role to play when chilren behave like this. I understand that a child might need a phone – but blackberries and smart phones? I don’t see the need for it. But when parents hand over their Iphones to toddlers to ‘play’ with – are they going to even understand if we tell them at the age of 15 that no they cannot have a smart phone? To a large extent, parents of our generation believe in giving children ‘everything’ that ‘we did not have’, and I have seen such superbrats, that it makes me mad!

  14. I’m not a teenager anymore but it wasn’t long since I had been one. I know we were naive and did things that we weren’t suppose to do but trust me, we do learn from our mistakes and as long as it ain’t a life threatening mistake, parents should allow us to make them and learn from them. We still do things that our parents wouldn’t appreciate if they knew that we were doing them.

  15. Oh god! That’s total scary Shilpa!
    Although the onus is lying in the hands of parents, how much can they control?
    The media/exposure/attitude of this gen’s kids are completely different. The conventional method of parenting will never work out!

    Spying the kids is something no teenager will like. I think, time is the healer, and it is affordable to let them do the mistakes and learn from them – as long as the mistakes they commit are not deadly!!

  16. Completely agree with the post. Even I wonder what’s going to happen to my kids. I sometimes feel parents are partially responsible for this. I have seen many parents who dont question their kids about anything. They have no idea what kind of friends their kid hangs out with etc. Keeping a tab on his daily activities can help them in controlling their kids.

  17. I’m of the same age and sometime it really feels bad when I see students of mine age smoking and drinking. I feel its all because of their upbringing.

  18. Those kids were 17-18 years old! I don’t find it surprising that they were discussing girls or even smoking. Yeah smoking is not good for health. But most boys try it out much before they are this age.
    I know of someone of my generation who started smoking at age 13, along with friends of the same age, without parents knowledge. When it was done stealthily everyone was happy to be in their ignorant worlds. Now that it is happening right in front of our eyes, we are aghast. 🙂 Such things have been happening all the time.
    If a father befriends his son on FB, and pulls him up for his status messages, what else can be expected?? If such things happen, it is better to approach it in a more diplomatic and indirect way. It is better to set an example in real life and have better communication with children also in real life, rather than pull them up for status messages, especially if they are older teens.
    Oh well, I know I think differently 😉

  19. Though I agree with the concerns of Parents, I would like to say that this is not something that has come about in the days of IPhones and Blackberrys. As Sahil pointed out I have known my friends who have started smoking when they are 12 and 13 and had a drink when they were the same age. And boys discussing about girls, well boys are boys and a girl lying she is college?? Has it not been happening forever now??? I don’t agree technology has come to play the devil. This has been part of the teen life for a very long time. And today’s kids are far more mature than yesterday’s and they are more aware of right and wrong from a pretty young age these days. The only difference is that the parents were uninformed then but now we are well aware of the situation and I guess the best that can be done is to sit them down and talk to them openly and make them aware of what might be harmful and what is acceptable.

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