Giving Teens the Benefit of the Doubt
By Dena Amoruso
I'll be the first to admit that my teen is no angel. A live wire from birth, she has always possessed a "wiseguy" thread of larceny that she has employed from time to time to stack the odds in her favor. But in general, she is a good kid, a chip off the old block (more like her dad than like me) and always seems to land on her feet, a trait some of us parents hope our children can somehow acquire in this mixed-up, live-by-your-wits society.

And, although this is a time I may have it the toughest when trying to make adult sense out of the methods teens use to exert their independence, I cannot, for the life of me, fathom how rude most adults are to teenagers in general. Have you ever observed the treatment teenagers get when service personnel at stores and in restaurants don't think their parents are around to observe it? The body language is noticeable and the tone is oftentimes condescending, for starters. And this demeanor can persist even when these kids aren't even present! A recent encounter I personally had with a health club staff member found me assuring her that my daughter had not forged her parental consent form; it was indeed my signature that appeared there.

My question is this. How are teens supposed to learn to treat others with respect when they are consistently thought of and treated as second class citizens? True, many may deserve to be ignored, having gotten the attention they seek in all the wrong ways. But most I know are not worthy of such open disdain even when they respond with single-syllable answers. These kids are not only future consumers, they are a huge factor in today's economy, with many of them possessing considerable spending power.

My beef is somewhat hypocritical, I'll admit; I have been guilty of thinking the worst when seeing a purple-haired, nose-pierced humanoid with a squeaky voice try to act as if their appearance were a normal part of the commercial landscape. But most teens are just plain old baggily dressed, drab colored sacks of adolescent confusion trying to act as if they know it all so that they don't give themselves away. 15-year old boys generally utter three-word sentences and their female counterparts do nothing but ooh and ahh and give out false compliments to one another while they giggle behind some else's back. The truth, in my humble opinion, is that there is no hidden agenda here. Just this batch of years where high schools, parents, cops, and motor vehicle departments are pre-disposed to become control freaks (albeit for teens' own good, sometimes) as a last stab effort before these generation Z members become a forced with which to be reckoned.

Why not just try to give a teenager the benefit of the doubt? With as many teens being brought up in families where Mom and Dad have split and moved on to bigger and better things, many of them lack the domestic stability some of us Baby Boomers grew up with. And if core family life is so disposable, what examples do these kids have to emulate? Let's just try to treat them the way we would like to be treated, in Golden Rule fashion, and wait until they give us a reason to treat them otherwise.

Dena Amoruso runs a freelance writing business and is a self-syndicated real estate columnist. Recently deciding to pursue her love of writing full time finds her at home for the first time since her daughter was small. In an effort to expand her writing to real life women's issues, she will be writing for as a mother, daughter, and wife. We hope you enjoy her reflections on experiences (some humorous!) that we may all face from time to time.

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