This afternoon while driving through an apartment complex, there was a group of about half a dozen or so high school teens walking in the middle of the street. They were fresh out of class, laughing and poking fun at each other. They weren’t in my way because they already passed the house I was stopping at. However, when I got out of my car, I caught the tail end of the confrontation that occurred between the group and the car that was behind me. No, nobody crashed into anyone; except maybe two different cultures and two different wills.
“I was going to ask you guys to move,” the driver, a woman in her 40s, said. “But you’re just too cool for that huh?” She drove away with a very disgusted look on her face and shaking her head. The teens lost their joy of being free from class as it changed into confusion while they discussed what just happened.
Now, I can’t say the teenagers didn’t do anything wrong. I didn’t see the whole incident take place. Maybe the teens were refusing to move, it didn’t appear that way to me but I simply do not know. What I saw however, was an adult forgetful of their own teenage experiences and with their own goals in mind.
I admittedly am probably reading far too into this simple scenario, but what I was saw in that moment was an adult not realizing that what she deems as them trying to be “cool,” is in fact their attempt at identity formation. What I saw from this woman’s reaction reminded me of adult abandonment.
What if instead of being so concerned about our own goals and the places we as adults are headed, we instead took the time to walk with teenagers through the various masks they try on and share the road with them? What if instead of telling them that their misguided attempts to form an identity are a bother and hassle to us, we help them try on different masks, validate their feelings and help them seek truth?
These ideas will have to start at home with the family, but for me as a single adult with a calling to help teenagers, I can be the change I want to see. Won’t you join me? It’s not enough to just know about teenagers, read books about them, set up programs to assist them etc. All these things are beneficial and necessary, but what teenagers really need is someone who joins them on their journey. Let’s share the road.