What’s it like to be a teenager growing up today? Have you ever sat down and really thought about this question? If you have kids or teenagers now would be a good time to sit and really think about it. I would love to hear your thoughts.
I have to say I really admire and respect our young people. I love their honesty and enthusiasm for life. I love their energy and the fact they can challenge our thinking and beliefs. Even though we adults think we know it all, sometimes we need to stop, listen and learn from our young people.
Young people are really up against it in today’s society. Everything has become so hurried, rushed and frantic. Fast Wi-Fi, phones, exams, jobs, hobbies. We have our kids rushing from one activity to another. Where’s the down time, where’s the time to sit and just be?
In school everything is geared up for the leaving cert, from the time they start secondary school, it’s like everything hinges on the results. If you don’t get good results you are somehow a failure. Is this really the message we want to give our young people? Should this expectation be put on them from such a young age? When did it become a crime to not excel at everything? At 17 I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I didn’t go to college until I was in my thirties and I’m doing OK!
The teen years are a time of pushing boundaries, rebelling against adults and experimentation. The explosion of the internet has exposed our young people to porn and online gambling something other generation didn’t have to contend with. Our young people are growing up in a time of social media, video games, constant advertising and reality TV. Celebrities seem to set the standard to aspire to.
So, in this ‘fake’ virtual world how can we protect our young people from alcohol? The alcohol industry is big business which has a huge marketing campaign portraying itself as glamourous, fun and normal. Truth be known parents can’t really protect our teens from that unless we turn off the TV, internet and radio.
What Can We Do about Alcohol?
We can talk to our young people about alcohol. We can advise them and lead by example. We can encourage the individuality in our young people, they shouldn’t have to conform to all of society’s expectations. If there is alcoholism back along the family tree we can be honest about it and discuss the risks with our kids.
We can build resilience, self-esteem and confidence in our children, encourage their decision making skills, create an open family environment so they can confide in us, and not go to pieces if they mess up (remember we have all messed up at some stage!)
Alcohol abuse is more prevalent in teenagers with low self-esteem, poor social skills and poor coping skills. Mental health issues also add to the mix with many young people drinking alcohol to cope with negative feelings. The wide availability of alcohol in off licences and supermarkets has normalised buying alcohol in the weekly shopping. Alcohol was once a yearly commodity (bought at Christmas) but has now become part of the weekly regime for some people. Isn’t it no wonder our young people think its okay to drink alcohol like tea?!
So I hope this article has given us adults something to ponder about.