My teen group is comprised of all shapes and colors of girls.
Girls who vape, have sex, stay on their phones all night, and have worries that are part of our larger world: friends getting shot to death; murdered. Friends who have been abused. Boys, girls, families with no anchor. Climate change. Not attending school. Phobic of attending school. Parents who have two jobs. Parents who live in bad neighborhoods and don’t let their kids out, ever. Kids whose parents have no money for an afterschool program. Girls who have been assaulted by a step parent. Girls who have tried substances for sleep, or have learned to self-harm in order to soothe worries of being alone, or upset about a teacher who embarrassed them. Contrary to public opinion that we coddle them too much; perhaps we don’t coddle them enough?
I don’t mean we should helicoptor or snowplow them to death. I mean we should get back to a place of balance. We need a stronger economy, spreading the wealth so parents can have more time with children. Universal pre-k. Background checks for gun purchase and free and fair elections with a day off. We need equity for women. We need parity for mental health. We need Medicare for all. If we weren’t so worried, we would be better off.
I have read countless articles on how to motivate people. The one that always cracks me up is a headline that says if you’re nice to your employees they will work harder. DUH!!! If only. I once had a job that gave us each a bottle of wine on our birthdays! It was really cute. It made people feel special. It’s not hard to do. Or as our beloved baseball coach used to say, “It’s not that shocking!” Simple appreciation of one another would go a long way to greater satisfaction and productivity. My client told me that when she goes to work hungry, her boss puts out snacks. Real food, like bread and cheese and a toaster oven. Or my other client, who is saving for grad school, and whose company served pizza every Friday — she loved that, until they stopped… My alma mater, SUNY-Albany just started something really cool and innovative, a food pantry. How many students go hungry each day? And another client told me it’s great that colleges are giving more weight to economic diversity, but she can’t get to the cost of admissions just yet — she hasn’t even gotten past the cost of the application itself. Some of the time the ACCESS to these things is blocked by barriers of bureaucracy that even a Ph.D. couldn’t wade through.
My group started talking about the book Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nahisi Coates, a BRILLIANT read about the current state of race relations in America. It should be required reading. The kids talked and talked. The black teenager said, I’m tired of being scared all the time. The white teenager said, I had no idea. The rest said, we love you, stay strong. And then we talked about slut shaming and fat shaming, and yes, we do need to tread more lightly on people who are suffering, AND, we need to remind ourselves that Bill Maher is ALSO right; we need to get healthier. It’s both.
So let’s get with the “woke” young people regardless of age, race, color, gender or status. Why are we going backwards? If the kids in group can do it, why can’t adults? Baby boomers look out — the Millennials are coming like it or not! They are bigger, better and stronger than us…
- Gen Z, iGen, or Centennials: Born 1996 – TBD.
- Millennials or Gen Y: Born 1977 – 1995.
- Generation X: Born 1965 – 1976.
- Baby Boomers: Born 1946 – 1964.
- Traditionalists or Silent Generation: Born 1945 and before.