7 things adults can learn from teenagers
Teenagers are snowflakes, always on Insta and wear silly clothes, right? Wrong! We spoke to a group of super-smart teens to get beyond the clichés - and garnered some unexpectedly ace advice.
Stop spluttering on your coffee – there’s actually a plethora of wisdom dispensed by young people, if we take the time to actually properly listen to them. (There’s a lot of half-baked, precocious nonsense too but let’s ignore that stuff.)
Have you heard the phrase “passing up”? While we’re accustomed to grandly passing down our knowledge and advice to younger generations, it can actually be a two-way street, with an upward flow of info too – getting digital native kids to help out granny with baffling tech is a good example. Ditto getting the lowdown on the best new budget beauty brands from teenage girls (they tend to really know their stuff).
With this in mind, I headed to d’Overbroeck’s school in Oxford for an audience with a smart, witty, thoughtful bunch of sixth formers – Alice, Tansy, Grace and Michael. d’Overbroeck’s is an independent co-ed school – Hero reviewed it here – and they’re clearly doing something right as their six formers were a credit to the school. The teens jumped at the chance (funnily enough) to give their parents – and all adults – some heartfelt advice. Here’s what they told me.
Don’t try to fix everything
“My parents always want to find a solution for everything. It comes from a good place – they’re trying to help – but it can be frustrating. If I’m feeling down, they might say, “It’s because you’ve been in bed all day and haven’t been outside” or “it’s because you haven’t seen your friends in a while”. Sometimes there isn’t a straight answer to every issue and you just need to sit back and see how things pan out. You might not know everything that’s going on in our lives but that’s normal. We’re not going to tell you everything.” (Tansy)
We’re not all obsessed with our phones
“Adults assume that all kids are obsessed with social media. I accept that some are and that is problematic but every middle-aged person I ever meet says, “Let’s wait for how long it takes her to get her phone out” or “How many times have you been on Instagram today?” I actually turn my phone off for several days of the week because I find myself wasting too much time and Instagram can really dampen my mood.” (Alice)
Bullying isn’t always what you think it is
“These days people are more likely to view bullying for what it is – there isn’t that sense that the bully is the “cool guy” any more. And if parents do find out their child is being bullied and they march into school to complain about it, it can make things much worse. Sometimes I think parents are too quick to call something bullying when it’s just friends have a disagreement. As a child you have to develop skills to get along with people.” (Michael)
“Adults usually assume bullying is from an online troll or someone who doesn’t know you. But actually it’s your friends’ comments that have the biggest impact on you. That’s the real problem. Your friend often feel comfortable enough to say things like, “You don’t look great today” which can be hurtful.” (Tansy)
Quit the hilarious jokes about our clothes
“One day I wore trackies and a baggy jumper for school and my dad was like “Oh, have you decided to dress like a boy now?” I said, “No, I’m just trying to be comfortable.” A few days later I said to him, “That really annoyed me that you said that because our generation can dress how we like.” (Tansy)
“I refuse to go clothes shopping with my mum any more because she tells me I look horrible in everything. You don’t have to lie but sometimes it’d be fine to pick the thing we look least horrible in and just say we look nice.” (Alice)
Stop calling us snowflakes
“When older people say that I think it stems from a lack of understanding of the issues we face as a generation and it’s a way to discredit them – social media pressures, LGBT issues, climate change and so on. If I say, “the environment is a real problem”, they might say, “Oh you’re being a snowflake for exaggerating”. (Grace)
Be flexible in your definition of success
“Older people see success as the usual path of university, great job, lots of money whereas with our generation, you might make no money but start a campaign that goes global like Greta Thunberg or simply grow up to the nicest, kindest person around – and we’ll class you a success.” (Alice)
“I can’t imagine myself sitting down and having the same job in the same field for the rest of my life. I just want to go with the flow and try lots of different things. I think I’ll be much happier that way than having everything mapped out.” (Tansy)
Be our parent as well as our friend
“I feel like parents read in parenting manuals that they shouldn’t be telling their kids what to do and they should let them make their own decisions. But it can go too far the other way. We’re only teenagers – we don’t always know what to do! Try to balance being a parent and being a friend.” (Alice)
“I have literally just asked my dad for advice about something, saying “I know you want me to make my own choices but can you just tell me what to do with this one?” He’s like, “No, no, you need to work it out yourself.” I’m, like, “No! You have the green light to make a call on this one.” (Grace)
What do you think? Is there value in taking advice from the mouth of babes or should they fall in to line and accept your superior wisdom?! Anything here really chime with you? We’d love to hear your thoughts – pop a comment in the box below.
Visit d’Overbroecks’ Open Day on Saturday 6 Oct.