Stop Hating Teens, and Start Respecting Them

…or you’ll have me to deal with!

Recently I ran across a profoundly disturbing piece of science journalism regarding new observations of the teenaged brain. Read it, then come back here.

What offends me, exactly?  The part that no one notices – the part that people of the modern culture, especially (as far as I know) here in the USA, perpetuate without thought: the totally biased “scientific” interpretation (but perfectly accurate in terms of our cultural myths) on top of the actual observation of the teenage brain; though Teen brains may indeed not possess myelin sheaths that adults brains have, that doesn’t make them “unfinished”, in the sense that the article portrays: foolish, flawed, poor decision makers.

Without Teen’s “unfinished” brains 99% of the risk taking done in the name of love, art, idealism, adventure, protecting family, would disappear.

Teens excel at taking risks because they have perfectly developed brains for doing so.

Saying they have unfinished brains compares to saying a new moon hasn’t “finished” until it swells to a full moon. The Teen brain marks one moment in the cycle of the brains life where it has enormous potential for one kind of behavior – risk taking, adventure, romantic expression.

Think about this. Every moment of a human body’s life, the forces of life have demanded they produce vitality and excellence for all the humans in the social group. As natural people, belonging to family and land, we don’t “tolerate” the “slow development” of the teenage brain. We require teenagers to have fully intelligent minds, with just a little bit of crazy, to test the boundaries of our culture – to take risks, act like fools for love, to do everything that sober adults can’t do (without taking a deep breath).

It adds an extra layer to note that adults of the modern world (who belong to the culture of the above article) simultaneously want to consume teens (sexual exploitation, pop entertainment, using them to fuel our wars) along with demonizing, judging (like the neuroscientist in the article) and controlling them (oppressive schooling environments, curfews, etc.).

There would be no war in the world if it wasn’t for the teenage brain; and yet who runs those wars? Old men, adults. I don’t see the article explaining that part…

It’s awfully convenient to pin foolish behaviors on teens.

Every stage of a single person’s life creates Life for everyone around them, if they live it fully.

Children excel at Play, Teens excel at Risk, Adults excel at Providing, Elders excel at Story. The cycle never stops, it has no real beginning or endpoint. Without any one of these ripenings of human aspect, we would have never survived to the present. We would not exist. We require children, teens, adults, and elders to behave as they do for our very survival and vitality.

For those adults who look at children and see the inconvenience of playfulness, look at teens and feel threatened by their risky behavior, or look at elders and the ‘tiresomeness’ of their stories, I can only look at you and say:

Consider that if you haven’t done those things to your fullest ability, in your own time, then you haven’t lived.

Just because we live in a culture that worships gods of productivity and production, does not make such worship sane. To the extent that I did not play enough, or risk enough, I regret it. It has made me a smaller person.

Without a doubt, I do intend to make the most of my adult and elderhood. I only have the present moment to create the wealth of a well-lived life.

Written by Willem