“Respect your elders” my mother used to always tell me. Then I watched as the elders, elderly, and the older than me would disrespect me and what I had to say. As if my point of view and intellect carried any less weight as a human than theirs. Sure, they have walked the earth for some time, but does that qualify them for some hierarchy of respect that is given and not earned? Not until the late 80s and 90s movement for the kids vote did a small group of adults (and elderly) wise up to the fact that maybe kids have something profound to share with the world, a spin on the vision, worldly perspective to be respected. This group of adults found wisdom in our youth. A small gaggle of adults found respect in how young people viewed the world and their feedback could profoundly change our future.
My parents, even other parents, have groaned about the trials and challenges that having kids and teenagers bring. I’ve groaned, but never about the beautiful intelligence my kids bring to the world, never about their brilliance in how they view the world. Often we mistake youth with inexperience, doltish behavior and the inability to comprehend our messed up adult world. We could not be more amiss in our trains of thought.
You see I had the gracious opportunity to promote my ministry in front of a group of 18-29 year olds. To be honest I was super intimidated, these are the up and coming faces of our future and the last thing I ever wanted to do was disrespect them. Truth be told though….what the hell do I say to this crowd?! I am at least a decade and or two their senior, “what could we possibly have in common” and “how can I not sound old to not disrespect these kids” were my fears.
So I did what any respectable adult and or parent would do…I asked my kids. I asked other people of the same age genre their opinion. While they are at least 10-20 years this crowds junior, the youth of today is so genuinely plugged in, chaste in their views and unspeakably genius with their wisdom. In leveraging the youth in my household I was exposed to something far greater and unspeakable than any parent could imagine.
Magic. Children, teenagers, youth, they are unadulterated magic with their vision, their words, their views.
When we stop and ask kids what they think of the issues at hand, ask them how they see the world, respect them as individuals, we find a better way. Often we mistake our elders as having all the answers assuming in their knowing the way. Lived to tell the tale, we think; they have seen the world change they could tell you a time or two about this or that. Agreed, but so have our kids. Kids, teenagers, young adults are in the midst of all this change. They are in the throes of our evolution. Who better to ask than the ones trailblazing the future to become those elders.
Our mistakes lie in our own misunderstanding, our own arrogance and lack of humility to admit as adults, parents, that we do not have all the answers. Youth, children, our kids, they have the answers or at least some. Had my parents had the conversations I have with my kids today, I might have been a totally different adult. By no means am I placing blame, however, I think as a parent my duty is not just to raise my children and teach them right from wrong, but engage them, talk to them, treat them on the level as humans, as little people who have the same issues as adults without all or some of the baggage.
Engaging kids promotes self-esteem and a positive self image. By leaning in to our kids, extending the branches of our shortcomings we can promote a new future, a new way of life. These kids have so much beauty and love to share that we do not tap into this resource enough, if at all. We have become our parents, who were their parents, who said “Respect your elders. Your (insert some figure of age here) knew all about this, but doesn’t know about all this nonsense.” That nonsense is how our world is changing.
Texting, email, SnapChat, Minecraft, my kids can tell me more about technology, social media circles and the underworld of youth than any elder, adult, or respectable parent. I love the naivety, the grandeur and the cleverness of kids and youth. We as adults, parents, the elderly have so much to learn from these evolutionary, creationary gifts we call children. Speaking to them as they were adults, asking them how they feel, what they think, and gaining their perspective expands our world, expands their world, and somehow homogenizes them so we have one another’s perspective.
Are tweens, teenagers, and young people moody? Absolutely! You are too when hormones rage…ahem…ladies. Think about the aforementioned like your place of work and all of the sudden they announce big changes, overnight. With those changes they opt for the open office environment where your corner suite of an office is now an open table shared with three or more others and no privacy. Seeing, smelling, and hearing your coworkers all in your space, elbow to elbow, but these examples only dust the iceberg of struggles. Well, that is the life of a singular teenager and what they are experiencing from age 10 forward.
Suddenly, they have immediate changes and they really don’t know what is going on, who is to blame and why they feel so uncomfortable, sometimes in their own skin. I’d be cranky too. Inject into the situation all of the adult struggles like technology, social media, what to wear, he-said-she-said, the list goes on. Where if we just stopped to take a moment, love on these people and talk to them not as a parent, but as a fellow human to gain understanding of what they are experiencing we could understand the situation so much more clearly.
So while we may think we have a good portion of the answers because we have lived through these seasons of life, not every season is the same. We cannot tattoo moments and experiences as being the same throughout for each and every person, including our kids, other kids. What we can do is learn to leverage the wisdom of our youth. We can lean in, pocket our arrogance, cast aside our boastful pride of “living to tell the tale” and find out the new tales to be told. What our kids have to say. What can we learn from our immature generation as opposed to our mature generation?
2 Replies to “Wisdom of Youth”
The old saying out of the mouth of babes, holds alot of truth.
Kids have more to say than adults. Pure and simple. They speak the truth 99% of the time instead of 45% of the time.
My husband has a memory of his great grandmother tell him and his cousins “Children are to be seen and not heard!” said in a very strict voice. They never spoke around her again and truly the loss was hers.