I have to wonder if every generation has wondered to themselves, “What in the world is wrong with teenagers today?” If every generation has shaken their heads and wondered how in the world these kids today will be able to take care of them and run the country when we are too old to do it anymore.  We don’t understand the slang they use, we don’t really care what Instagram or Snapchat is, and if you are like me, we cannot fathom where their respect for self and others has gone.

Just this past week, I had a run-in with a teenager that made me sit and shake my head, just like generations of parents before me. A teenager I had never met before in my life, but who by the end of our “conversation”, made me want to hunt down her mother and smack her in the face.

I was getting my boys ready to go to the pool and beginning to pack up our vehicle with towels, toys, sunscreen, and soccer equipment for their practice later. It was hot, sticky, and we all couldn’t wait to dip our toes into the cool pool water.  I headed out of my front door and was shocked to see a teenage girl just lying down in my driveway; on her back with her phone over her face.

“Excuse me,” I said, “Can you get out of my driveway?” I didn’t know who this girl was; had never seen her before, but here she was, treating my driveway as if it was her new kick-it spot.  The girl picked her head up, turned it around, and laughed at me before she lay back down and began texting on her phone.  I think my blood pressure shot up into a danger zone before I had a chance to blink.

“Get out of my driveway,” I wasn’t going to be nice and ask anymore. “I don’t know who you are and this is my property.  Get off it before I call the police.”

The girl sighed loudly, stood up and went and stood in my neighbor’s yard. The words that came out of her mouth would have made a Navy veteran blush, and I stood there with my mouth hanging open, while she hurled insult after insult at me.  I was called everything from a skinny bitch who just needed to get her rear-end to the pool to a dumb soccer mom (I’m using the nicest words I could think of).

“If you were an adult” I told her, “I’d smack you so hard right now.” I couldn’t believe how I was being treated, on my own property, by a girl not any older than 14 years old.  I’m not going to lie; I wanted to march right up to that girl and smack her in the mouth; not just for what she was saying, but to show her that her words were going to have some consequences she didn’t like.

“If you hit me, I’ll call my momma.” She smirked at me which ended up enraging me even more.

“Call her!” I bellowed. “Call her right now, send her down here and I’ll tell her what a disrespectful brat she is raising.”

She laughed, “She don’t care!” And then she took off on foot down the street, hurling insults at me the entire time.

I stood in the driveway for a good five minutes watching her walk away, and thinking to myself how I would have been punished as a child for speaking to an adult the way she just spoke to me. The punishment I would have endured if I would have trespassed on someone’s property and then hurled insults at the homeowner when they asked me to leave.  I’m sure many of you reading this blog can just imagine what your parents would have done to you if you spoke to an adult the way that this teenager just spoke to me.

And I think that is the problem; the teenagers these days have absolutely no consequences for their actions. Teenagers walk around nowadays with no regards for anyone but themselves and whoever is following them on social media.  They speak to adults that they don’t know the same way that they are allowed to speak to adults at home.  Maybe their parents are too caught up in their own lives, jobs, or smartphones to understand or really care about how their child acts.  Maybe it’s easier nowadays to just buy them what they want to shut them up, but that’s not the way it worked for me and that’s not the way it worked for generations before me.

It is up to us as parents to teach our children how to act and speak appropriately and respectfully to others. It is up to us as parents to teach our children that we work hard for things that we want and we certainly don’t reward bad behavior with a new IPhone.  It is up to us as parents to be the positive example to our children, to model decent behavior, and to have swift consequences for our children if they act the way that teenager acted with me.  We aren’t their friends or buddies; we are their parents, their guides, and their mentors.  We aren’t there to make their life easier; we are there to help them become the best adults that they can be.