I stayed up late last night for a midweek party at our house. It has become a tradition in our home among the teenagers to throw a dance party on October 31, and last night about 30 teenagers were dancing the night away in our living room. The “Jeub Pumpkin Dance” included:
- Music and dancing
- Pies, caramel popcorn
- Candy exchange
- Trick-or-treating in the house (I’ll explain that below)
- Pumpkin carving contest
Many of the teenagers were students of the speech and debate organization I run (Training Minds). They have such energy and excitement for life, I often wonder why teenagers have an awkward reputation among adults. You know this is true: how often do you hear adults sigh about their teenagers? Or older parents warn younger parents, “Oh boy, just wait till they’re teenagers,” and they roll their eyes. The impression is that adolescents are not good people.
Hogwash. Teenagers are awesome. They’re our future, and I’m confident that the future will be bright. I work with youth in my profession, and I’ve come up with this hypothesis:
Grumpy grownups have stereotyped teenagers, but teens are really full of ingenuity, joy and life.
Even those in the business of teens have contributed to the stereotype. I remember a youth pastor several years ago who regularly complained about the “foolishness” of the youth. He’d refer to a few Bible stories to prove a point: young people should just settle down. It was his subtle attempt to correct young people, demeaning their energy as something bad or sinful.
Yeesh, what a pathetic view of young people. This pastor ran a youth camp, for crying out loud, and eventually burned out and quit. He continued on with his stereotype, becoming hypercritical of the “youth group movement,” generalizing entire teen ministries as encouraging the sinfulness of youth.
You can guess that we didn’t get along very well. I love the energy of the young, and I encourage it. You have to understand, too, that I have a houseful of children – five teenagers plus a 20 year old. Life is abundant in the Jeub home.
Like last night. My wife and I didn’t run the party; we had little to do with it. The kids planned the entire thing – sent invitations, managed RSVPs, cleaned the house, cleared the living room, made the pies, decorated, etc.
They did things spontaneously, too. Early in the party several younger siblings – some dressed up for Halloween – were bundles of excitement. The teens came up with an idea: let them go trick-or-treating throughout the house! Teenagers each took a bowl of candy and stood behind every closed door in the house (bedrooms, closets, etc.). The little kids would knock, the teens would throw open the door, and fill up the bags for the kids. What fun!
Creativity. Life. Adaptability. Fun. Today’s young people – at least the ones who came to the Jeub Pumpkin Dance last night – are full of life and joy. They are awesome.
Question: Do you see the same negative view of teens in the world? What do you think about it?