Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Kids today...

Teenagers. No, this isn't going to be a moan along the lines of "...they don't know they're born"or "they get far too much these days." This is a piece I've been inspired to write by my own teenagers, their friends and what I see happening around me. (They created the image for this blog, in fact. Not too shabby as energy and fun goes, is it?)

I wrote about the issues faced by young people last year in the wake of the riots. I stand by much of what I said, but any edit would reflect upon the highs created by the recent Olympic and Paralympic Games, and whether we really did manage to 'Inspire A Generation', or just the kids with enthusiastic parents and access to the better facilities and support networks?

Young people face a choice when leaving school (for those that make it that far.) If they get the results needed, do they take the plunge and continue study to University level (and enter the world of increasing tuition fees), or do they enter the job market- which is tougher now than many of us can recall? For those whose academic results rule out University, competition for apprenticeships and training programmes is fierce, and again, the employment market is a vicious beast at present.

I sent a tweet last night asking what piece of advice the Twitter community would give to young people-one thing you'd recommend they carry with them as they set out.

Safesite's Marketing Manager Ruth Taylor said "Enjoy work, apply yourself now & learn as much as you can, you'll reap the rewards later. Oh and hindsight is a wonderful thing!" 
Zoe Mounsey is a sharp HR mind and employee engagement afficionado as well as a mum, and she advises "Be curious. With the wealth of information at people's fingertips, we should never feel that there is nothing left to learn or to understand, so should always be asking questions."

A lovely tweet from 'glam legal eagle', the enigmatic and wise LotusFlower: "Cultivate a good life/work balance now for better stress-management in the workplace."

The old saying goes 'It takes a village to raise a child.' So instead of rolling your eyes at 'unruly' young people or condemning them as 'lazy', 'disrespectful' or 'demotivated', why not discover what motivates and energises them? Instead of demanding to know why struggling parents can't manage their teenagers, why not offer a listening ear or a kind word of encouragement to them and their child? The pressures on parents are unlike any at any time in modern history- many work long hours our of necessity, not desire. Personally, I live with the weekly regret that I feel I've never quite spent enough time with my own 18 and 14 year old and the resolve to do better next week. Some have never learned the skills needed to handle their children beyond baby or childhood, and more still view their teenager as something from another planet. It doesn't mean they're failing; they just need to know they're not alone.

Our teachers do amazing work on the whole, but often there's not enough of a link between home and school to ensure consistency and stability and often no link at all to the wider community. We cannot and should not condemn 'the system'- and by default our teachers- for failing anybody while we stand by and leave the hard work of raising the next generation to those whose 'job' it is.

We all have a part to play, and a duty to ourselves to fulfil it as best we can. Young people need us, and more importantly, we need them. We need to look out for them, whether it's our 'job' to or not.

Think about the teenagers you know. Now think past what you see and hear and consider them as people. 

You don't just have your parents, or a teacher to go to for advice and support, so why should they?

Who's to say that even if you're not a teacher or the parent of a young person that you can't be the empathiser, motivator or cheerleader they need?

The last word goes to mentor, coach and business and schools speaker David McQueen, who recommends that young people "find one person you can talk to about anything." 

Maybe you're that one person. Why not go and find out?

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