I think one of the roles that older adults can play in Western society is to help older teens.
I’m not sure if the term ‘older adults’ has a widely accepted definition. I won’t try to define it, but I’ll leave it to each reader to decide if they would include themselves for the purposes of this Blog. Feel free to lurk if you are feeling left out.
Here’s a starting point of how I try to help out. One way is to be empathetic. Trying to motivate with “When I was your age…” is increasingly irrelevant.
Acknowledge and validate the many losses that older teens are experiencing. Think broadly; loss can be of friendships, expected opportunities, predictable work and education in the years ahead, expected entitlements of financial stability, home ownership, vacations measured in weeks, not days, and the likelihood of owning a fancy car or any car.
From many perspectives, the years ahead will be one of adjustment to a sustainable future. For generations, the good times have been financed by the labour of the subsequent generations. This accumulation of widespread debt, from individual to national, is getting harder to sustain.
I think of the debt as being more than a financial debt. It is a debt of being planless. Using resources without planning how the next generation will make their way in life is not sustainable.
Hope is not a plan. Having hope that we’ll solve our problems when we get to them is a plan to fail spectacularly.
A simple example. There are about 1,000,000,000 people who live within 1,000 kilometres of European countries. Most live in a hot, dry land. If only 1% of these people decide they can no longer survive where they are, then 10,000,000 people will be on the move north, come the fires, high water and fierce winds.
The environmental migrants from South America who arrive at North American borders are a glimpse into the future that is just at our doorstep.
One way I can help is to listen to older teens and not dismiss their fears. I have not walked their path.
Please give this bit of a think. What is one thing you can do to empathize with an older teen so that they could feel validated – that their concerns are real, that you have confidence in them to handle what they are facing, and will support them in a meaningful way?
I’m curious about your thoughts. Please share your bit of a think in the comment section below. It will come to me for approval before posting.
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And my thanks to St. Albert Seniors Association: 780-459-0433 for making this Blog possible.