Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Non-typical teens

Recently, on an unschooling list I am a member of, a woman posted a concern about her teenage children 'not being typical teens.' She has raised her kids with non punitive methods, has respected their educational paths, their interests and now worries that they don't seem like the most teens. She angsts that "they don't drink, smoke, have sex, drugs, or indulge in consumerism. I mean, they don't even experiment?! Here is what I'm feeling worried about. Can kids be "too good"? Are they going to want to experiment later when the consequences might be more harsh?" {Disclaimer-drinking, having sex etc doesn't make you a bad person in my opinion}.

Ehh... and the problem is? They are kind, like to hang out together, don't care about hanging with other teens that much, they like their parents, like their life, could care less about obsessively calling their friends on cellphones or texting every few minutes- in fact they find the company of regular teens a little dull and immature.
Frankly, in her shoes I'd consider myself fortunate. Why worry? She has obviously done a great job of raising them.
The fact is, as Gordon Neufeld (Hold on to your kids: why parents matter more than peers) and others have written, what we are after is for our kids to be adult-oriented, not peer- oriented.
We want kids of all ages to form attachments to caring, engaging, responsible adults rather than having them put all their faith in their peers-expecting them(peers) to serve as role models, and directive and influential forces in their very young lives.
If these teens are not overly dependent on their peers to make their life seem whole then it is a good thing-and it could be because they were raised to find value in their own company, in being alone or with a few close friends and families. This doesn't make them anti social. In fact this is the way to develop into a caring social being.

Reality Check: Teens growing up in many non western cultures don't shun nor are disdainful of the adults in these cultures.

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