The Kids Are All Right: Teens And Activism
It's an interesting time, to say the least, to know teenagers. Ever since the tragedy in Parkland, Florida, teenagers have been making their opinions known and their voices heard regarding in this case, gun violence, but as a former teen activist, I have to say that we as adults should expect more as time goes on. And that's a wonderful thing! Teens are coming into their own as people, and as they mature, they are more and more aware of their surroundings, and they are putting away their fidget spinners and Tide Pods (sorry, couldn't resist that cheap joke) and joining up to demand change. So how to deal with that? As adults, we have been molding our children their whole lives, but now they are not only forming their own opinions, they're writing them on signs and marching out of school. So what to do when your teen becomes an activist?
The abbreviated answer is "Let them." Whether you believe in what your teen is protesting for or against doesn't matter in the slightest when all is said and done. Our time of 100% influence on these kids is over, and they have little to no time for our opinions since they are too busy forming their own. And this is something to be celebrated! It might infuriate you that your child has different political views than you do, but remember that they are in a major mental growth period, and figuring their own beliefs out. They're not going to agree with you all the time, and unless they are putting themselves in danger, it's now our job to step back and let them spread their wings.
Look at the survivors of Parkland's massacre. They are eloquent, passionate, strong kids. They have opinions, strong opinions, and they are not afraid to let them be known. They're doing research, quoting statistics, literally doing their homework on civics, history, and politics. At the same time, they're cheeky kids who like being loud, who have incredible opinions, and don't shy away from the camera. These kids are powerful. They've decided to be their own role models, and heaven help anyone who gets in their way.
I see this because I was just like them when I was a kid. I was in high school for the 1992 presidential election, and my guy was running against the other guy, and a few of us were ready with signs and stickers and begging our parents to let us go to rallies ("No," said my parents...very well then.) We were so interested in politics back then, back at the advent of 24 hour news, but more importantly to us, the brilliance of MTV's "Rock The Vote" which encouraged kids to be more politically active. Rock the Vote got so many kids into the action of politics, and I was definitely one of them. Rock the Vote fizzled out over the years, but it helped to create a generation of politically active young people, and I am forever grateful for that.
Instead of MTV, we now have CNN and the like, showing children, mere teenagers, standing up for their beliefs in the face of tragedy. I know kids will look at the vocal youth that have pushed and shoved their way into the political arena, and they will become interested in the world in a brand new way. Some of those kids might live in your very house. And that's great. That's fantastic. That's the future.