Tag Archives: Teenagers
For years, I’ve used the term “Jewish identity”, and never gave it too much thought. As a Jewish educator, the talk among my colleagues was often about how to instill our teenagers with a strong sense of their Jewish identity. This was so that they would feel a part of the Jewish community and continue that connection throughout college and beyond.
Recently, I started to think about this descriptor more deeply. It seems like an “add-on”—as if identity can be carved up into little pieces and assigned categories. Isn’t your identity just who you are?
As in, “I don’t have a Jewish identity, I am Jewish”. Period.
This might sound a bit silly or trivial, but our language speaks volumes about our situation in life and sometimes even the choices we make.
I remember hearing a question asked by one Jewish person to another with the intention of clarifying a position on an issue: “Are you an American Jew or a Jewish American?”
The person answered, “I am not falling into that trap. I’m Jewish. I’m an American. That’s it, anything more is unnecessary”.
What exactly is a Jewish identity? Is it a sense of obligation to tradition? Is it a commitment to continue to study our texts and glean meaning from them? Is it a commitment to keep certain mitzvot or to undertake more? Is it a desire to socialize only with other Jews?
What is your own Jewish identity? What are your some of your core values in terms of the choices you make regarding your heritage? When do you ‘feel’ Jewish–are you moved to own your identity by being spurred on by negative prompts, like Anti-Semitic comments or acts? Or do you experience a sense of belonging while participating in culturally “Jewish” activities? What prompts your Jewish identification?
Historically, Jews did not have to make any of these distinctions. Being Jewish needed no further descriptor. Our ancestors “did” Jewish because they were Jewish. Being Jewish meant that you participated in Jewish activities that felt natural to you and your community [prayer, acts of loving kindness, monetary donations, visiting the sick (pre-covid), etc.].
Now, in some communities, we seek to “do” Jewish in order to “feel” Jewish.
Dennis Prager, national speaker and author, often says that there are only two kinds of Jews, “those who identify as Jews and those who do not (or do so only when forced to do so by outsiders).” He calls the latter “non-Jewish Jews”, those who might be Jewish by birth (by either parent) and might have a Jewish name, but does not identify at all with the Jewish community (Ella Harris, for example). Among those who identify as Jewish, he further classifies this group into religious and secular.
Where do you fall on this continuum? Do the parameters of this definition suit you? What are you doing that is “Jewish”? What prompts your connection to your heritage, to your people? Are you satisfied with things as they are? If not, are there little changes could you make that would strengthen you as a Jew?
Want to learn more? Check out upcoming programs that I’m facilitating here
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Leave a comment | tags: Jewish education, Jewish identity, Judaism, Parenting, Teenagers | posted in Faith, Jewish Community, Jewish Culture, Judaism, Teenagers
What Should I Write About?
Writing Your College Essay Is Never Easy!
The time to begin your essay has never been more perfect. Your experiences this past summer might even contribute to your choice of topic. As you begin thinking about writing, if you’re like most teens, you may be experiencing some anxiety. It’s always hard to stare at a blank page and think of what to write. But don’t worry. These easy tips might get you going in the right direction. If you need to bounce ideas around with someone, no problem. I can help (see below).
- Do some preliminary thinking that involves some objectivity. Namely, who are you? Really. Know your character, personality, interests, hobbies, and skills. It is helpful to have this in mind as you begin brainstorming about topics.
- First, think about the experiences you’ve had that might set you apart from the crowd of other applicants. Remember, it’s not that unusual for others your age to have traveled to other countries, helped in a homeless shelter, etc. It won’t be the experience itself that will set you apart, but how that experience changed you in some way. This reflection piece is very important and seems easier than it is. For example, it’s not that interesting to others (I know, this is hard to hear) that you went overseas, but what did going on that trip teach you? In what ways did that experience change you? The answer to that might make a great topic for an essay.
- Make sure that what you write about is a good match for the school itself. For example, if you’re applying to mid-western schools it might not be that relevant if your experience has to do with deep-sea fishing. (are you laughing at all? Try to, it will help).
- Make sure your language is colorful, descriptive, and not boring. Hopefully your personality will shine through your writing.
If you need support during this whole process, I will help you through it! You’ll get idea prompts, feedback on your writing, ways to help ‘the real you’ enter your writing, and focus your writing on your objectives. I’m here to help. You can read more about the work I do here, and sign up for a free consultation.
Some resources that might help:
8 Tips for Crafting Your Best College Essay
Top Ten Tips for College Admissions Essays
Leave a comment | tags: College, college admission, College Essay, Parenting, Teenagers | posted in Adolescence, College, Jewish Teens, Parenting, Teens, Youth
Where’s the good news?
When it comes to teens, it seems that “Headlines” are usually “Dead Lines”….yes….news about deaths, teenage thugs, bullying, and more.
I’m tired of reading all this bad news about teens.
You might ask: “So, just look for the good news, what are you complaining about?”
It’s not that easy.
I get news alerts from Google and Yahoo sent to my Inbox, and generally what comes up, almost on a daily basis, is what you see below.
Tired teenagers may need a new mattressFree Malaysia Today – 20 hours
The researchers found that teenagers’ mattresses were often too small to accommodate their rapid growth. Moreover, they were often worn out …
Teenage thugs locked up after brutally attacking cyclist for being ‘ginger’Manchester Evening News – 25 minutes
Court is told that the four teenagers launched an ‘unprovoked attack’ on the cyclist as he stopped at lights in the city centre.
New wearable tech Ringblingz to help teenagers stay connectedNew Kerala – 16 hours
Washington, Feb. 09 : A new wearable technology has been reportedly launched that helps teenagers stay connected based on the social media …
Teenagers held over car theftsThe Herald – 2 hours
TWO teenagers have been apprehended by police and three stolen vehicles recovered after residents raised the alarm about suspicious activity.
Two Tucson teens arrested in murder plotFOX 10 Phoenix – 11 hours
Two Tucson teenagers are facing charges of conspiracy to commit murder after Pima County deputies say they were plotting to kill an …
Cincinnati Police arrest four teens in weekend aggravated robberiesFOX 19 Cincinnati – 14 hours
Cincinnati Police have arrested four teenagers in connection with two aggravated robbery offenses during the past weekend in Northside.
Russian teen project charged with “gay propaganda”Scoop.co.nz – 9 hours
“The Children-404 project is being prosecuted for “gay propaganda” because it provides sympathetic, supportive advice to isolated, bullied, …
I’m not saying that teens are not often a troubled lot, or that teenage rebellion is something we should be surprised about.
After all, James Dean, Catcher in the Rye, and all that…..we’ve all been sensitized to the plight of the adolescent.
However, it is worse now with bullying occupying a virtual limitless space and even bigger social platforms where often teens feel unwanted, unloved, and ostracized.
I’m just saying that I need a break.
So please, to all of you out there working with teenagers or reporting about them…..just write more of the good stuff, if only so it takes up more space in my Inbox.
1 Comment | tags: Adolescence, education, Jewish Teens, Parenting, Religion and Spirituality, Teenagers | posted in Adolescence, Jewish Teens, Judaism, Parenting, Teens
Guess what’s trending for #teens?
I discovered a helpful tool for twitter, a free site called hashtagify.me that lets you search trending hashtags.
You can easily search any hashtag and you’ll get instant results for the top ten hashtags words related to that word.
So, I put in #teens in the search bar and the terms come up in a graphic resembling typical mind map visuals.
In addition, you can hover over each word to determine how popular the term is.
Do you want to take a guess what words came up?
#School? #Jobs? #Internships? #College? #Scholarships?
No on all counts.
Here’s the list in order of popularity from highest to lowest. Caution given before proceeding…
Sure, the hashtag search is a very basic measure of who is searching for what, but when talking about teens being on twitter, it might be interesting to note what they’re searching for.
So, care to conclude anything based on these results?
Certainly, the list seems to represent more boys’ interests than girls. And those interests fall pretty much in a limited area related to hormones.
That being said, it’s interesting that #parenting made to the list.
Go parents! for giving the list a reality check and being concerned about your #teens!
1 Comment | tags: Hashtag, Parenting, Social media, Teenagers, Twitter | posted in Adolescence, Judaism, Life, Parenting, Youth
twitter logo map 09 (Photo credit: The Next Web)
“Treat every conversation you have on Twitter or Facebook as if it were a nationally televised press conference.”
This advice is not a recommendation from a public relations firm, or from a head hunter, or from a corporate policy book on social media. Nor was it taken from a how-to book on political life.
None of those sources would be surprising.
The quote above is from a sign posted in a Minnesota high school locker room in response to the rampant posting of students taking part in illegal activities online.
Some students, turning against friends, are giving coaches and teachers pictures of them in ‘compromising’ situations at drinking parties and participating in other illegal activities.
Sports scholarships have been pulled based on information coaches glean on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
In a previous post, I wrote that teens’ should make sure their online profiles are clean and scrubbed when applying to college. As with other things, everything moves down a bit, and what teens do in high school is not exempt from a close look by interested parties.
Opportunities may be in jeopardy based on discoveries online. Scholarships, nominations, recommendations…..all come into play mostly in the junior year of high school, but since online identities don’t disappear, it’s never too early to start thinking about this issue.
We know that checking someone out online is very tempting and all too easy.
So, for all the teens out there: think about who you are online. Does it match who you want to be? What will you need to do to make the image you want equal to the one you have? Would you feel comfortable if a scholarship committee saw your posts? Think about the quote at the beginning of this post.
To Parents: The advice above is worth sharing with your teen as part of a frank conversation about public and private identity, social media privacy settings, limit setting, trust and more.
Leave a comment | tags: high school, Jewish Teens, Parenting, Social media, Teenagers | posted in Education, Jewish Teens, Life, Parenting, Social Media, Teens
Negotiating with teens when they say “been there, done that!”
The entire school was taking a trip to the relatively new National Museum of American Jewish History, located in Philadelphia. The museum, with thousands of historic treasures, interactive exhibits, and multi-media presentations, has caused many people to say that they could spend days there and not see everything.
Yet, we heard that one student, when he learned about the trip, went home and confidently told his mother: “I don’t want to go. I’ve already been to the museum once.”
The comment above is not specific to the museum. It is a catch phrase for all things that kids think they’ve already done, if they’ve done it once.
I remember working with a student on his course selections for the coming year. I suggested a class that I thought he’d find really interesting, based on his background. He didn’t ask me any clarifying questions, and without missing a quarter-note, told me assertively: “I don’t need to take that class, I’ve already taken Talmud!”
Put in whatever word works for you here, so that the comment would be equally humorous:
“I don’t need to take that class, I’ve already taken engineering.” (architecture, medicine, fine arts, or any area of study that could be endlessly interesting if someone had the interest).
So, how as parents and educators do we get past the “been there, done that” syndrome?
With patience, explanations, and the confidence that we know better.
We should never assume because someone is in school, that there is a deep understanding of the process of learning.
We need the confidence to communicate that when it comes to learning anything, revisits are important and necessary. Gaining depth of a subject matter, seeing things again from a new perspective, is a good thing.
Let’s think about that, and let that very thought bring sweet smiles to our faces when we meet at our Seder tables and hear “But we did this last year!”
2 Comments | tags: education, Jewish Teens, Judaism, Parenting, Teachers, Teenagers | posted in Education, Jewish Educators, Jewish Teens, Judaism, Parenting, Teens
Should colleges check you out on Facebook?
For Teens, Their Parents, and Jewish Educators:
An article in Education Week noted what most of us already know: college admissions officers are not clueless when it comes to checking up on potential applicants.
There is an increase in the number of admissions officers who are digging deeper into social media as a way to gain a more rounded profile of student applicants. Kaplan Test Prep noted that this activity has more than quadrupled.
“Most kids have no idea how important it is that their profile[s] online — Twitter, Facebook, other social media spaces — need to be appropriate for the admissions process,” said Dean Skarlis, president of The College Advisor of New York. “Most kids don’t even realize what’s appropriate and what’s not because they’re 16, 17 and their idea of what might be appropriate is very different than that of a college admissions person.”
Unfortunately, social media users are experiencing less control of what content gets posted.
Appear in a picture, and your ability to remove it may be very limited.
How can you go about cleaning up your act?
Here are three really quick things to do now:
1. Conduct a search on yourself. Enter your name into various search engines and social media platforms to see what comes up.
2. Make sure your account is ‘clean’: free of postings that are inappropriate (get advice as to what inappropriate).
3. Do a search of your friend’s accounts, there may be content there that you would want removed.
4. Go into settings, and redo your privacy preferences so only your friends can see your posts..
Why is this post written for Parents, teens, and Jewish educators? As Jewish educators, we can use our setting to our advantage. Most of us meet with students in a trusting and casual environment. In those settings we have a unique opportunity to open discussions with our students that may rarely take place elsewhere. Moreover, helping students be more aware of the consequences of their actions is exactly within our mission.
Photo credit: Wikipedia
2 Comments | tags: Parenting, Social media, Teenagers, University and college admissions | posted in College, Jewish Teens, Life, Parenting, Social Media, Teens
Character Education: what has your teen learned?
What are the most important traits to develop in students?
At the end of high school, what would you want your teenager to know?
What character attributes will help teenagers succeed beyond school into the journey of life?
These questions are different from ‘outcome’ based education, which is based on content knowledge.
Instead, they ask the larger, more complicated questions that have no specific answer.
Yet, the quantifiable often gets the nod over those things that are difficult to measure and assess.
In a recent New York Times article, some schools have determined that building character is more important than building curriculum, and are backing that goal up with new initiatives.
What are the essential qualities to build character? Leadership?
Most of us recognize that the turmoil of years past, with ethical missteps and outright criminal behavior being acted out in the public arena, by formerly esteemed individuals, we need to really think about how to instill character-building activities in our youth.
Schools are stepping up to the plate, and regardless of how little or much parents are doing, most see this as a good thing.
One Chicago school professional labeled character traits as “resilience, integrity, resourcefulness, professionalism and ambition” which lead to leadership skills.
But this change will take time. What does exist now, are experiences for teens that work on these very things. Think scouting, faith-based after school education, and informal leadership activities like youth groups.
So, if you agree with this concept, that we need to pay attention to character traits (however you define them), your task as a parent and/or educator is to create opportunities for these traits to flourish. Starting now is a good idea.
2 Comments | tags: Character orientation, Jewish Teens, Leadership, Parents, supplementary school teachers, Teenagers | posted in Education, Jewish Educators, Jewish Teens, Judaism, Parenting
I just read a quick blog about how elementary school parents should prepare for Parent-Teacher conferences.
For parents of teenagers: Will you connect to your teen’s teacher this year beyond the basic back-to-school night?
My guess is no.
Unless things have changed (optimistically maybe they have), parent involvement past 6th grade is pretty much off the table.
The biggest change you’ll experience is that there won’t be ‘official’ ways to connect to the school as you’ve had in the past You know, classroom parent, home room helper, PTO representative, and candy sale coordinator….mostly non-existent.
This will not occur because you don’t want a connection.
And not because there shouldn’t be one.
It will be because schools tend to wean parents out of the picture pretty soon after elementary school.
And realistically, there is little time, fewer resources, and frankly less interest on the part of the school, parent, student to have those connections.
This doesn’t mean those formal opportunities and meetings to hear about academic and social progress are any less important.
Unfortunately, the fabric of the home/school connection is fraying just at the time when it needs to be strengthened. (If I have this all wrong, please comment).
You will need to find other ways to maintain a connection with those who work with your teenager. Why is this important?
Because whoever that is, can give you another glimpse of your child in another venue which allows you to have a check into how they’re developing.
How can you get those connections?
Some ideas are below, none of which I considered ‘helicoptering’.
Instead, they are creative ways of parenting and making connections in these busy times.
After all, your teen has just spent a considerable amount of time in a different environment.
Plus you’ve either spent time, money, or resources on the activities, and you have a right to know
- Establish a relationship with your teen’s coach (beyond “why is he/she on the bench so much?”)
- Connect with your teen’s camp counselors, director, after the summer is over to see how they did.
- Send your teen to an after-school faith-based program, and connect with the staff about your teen’s progress in social and educational areas.
- If your teen belongs to a youth group, chat with the coordinator about your teen’s social experiences.
- After your teens attends any teen program, check in with the staff regarding the above.
Please share your comments and thoughts, I’d like to hear from you.
Jewish Parents: Choose your teen’s activities wisely
Back-to-school basics for working parents (goerie.com)
Leave a comment | tags: faith-based education, Jewish education, Jewish parents, Parenting, religious education, Teenagers | posted in Adolescence, Education, Jewish Community, Jewish Education, Jewish Teens, Parenting, Teens
Are we just being stupid or stubborn?
There are some obvious signs that parents might not be as smart as we’d like them to be.
Do you want to hear some of the comments I’ve heard from parents who choose not to continue their teens’ Jewish education past the age of bar/bat mitzvah? Or Confirmation? Keep reading.
First, you need to know that really, I understand that today’s teens are busy, committed to many activities, are often holding down a part-time job, and dealing with the pressures of scoping out a future in college. I think my posts will convince you of that.
But hey, we know in our working and personal lives that the timeless often gives way to the trivial unless we prioritize and begin thinking of outcomes.
Yet, innumerable times, I’ve heard parents opt for the immediate, for the path of least resistance, for the easiest option instead of the best option.
I’m not saying that Jewish education is guaranteed insurance for success in college (maybe we could market that), but building a strong identity, critical thinking skills, a social network, and even earning college credits (or engaging in serious analysis) in a Jewish environment will help with college competencies.
I’m not just assuming all of these benefits, I actually hear it from our graduates.
Here is a sample of some parent comments that focus on the immediate instead of the timeless, on a path of ease instead of a path of priorities. They are not the smartest things I’ve ever heard. (My advice for parents about some of these issues are here).
“How will this be useful? I mean, we know the value of other activities (ouch, activities?), but I’m not sure about this…..”
“So and so will probably do a birthright trip in college….and that will solidify his/her Jewish identity, I’m sure.”
“In our family we’ve decided to emphasize ‘regular’ school….because, you know, it counts.”
“This falls very low on the priority scale, compared to other things that will look good for college.”
“So and so is planning on going to a college with a large/big/sizeable/impressive Jewish population, and socializing at Hillel will insure that he/she will stay connected.”
“The synagogue offered to pay so and so–and having a job instills a sense of responsibility, and besides–there just isn’t that much time to do so many Jewish things.”
Should we accept the obvious signs that parents have written off what we have to offer? Or should we continue to be stubborn optimists?
I hope that Jewish parents are smarter than this, but the burden is on us to change the game where we focus on the benefits that our programs offer instead of features.
Leave a comment | tags: Bar and Bat Mitzvah, Jewish community, Jewish education, Jewish identity, Jewish parents, Parenting, Teenagers | posted in Adolescence, Jewish, Jewish Community, Jewish Education, Jewish Teens, Judaism, Parenting, Synagogue
What’s the new normal anyway?
I recently read a great post called Approaching Normal. It got me thinking about how teens today think about being ‘normal’.
Even as adults, we all wonder about it, and the post describes just how much politicians, advertising gurus, and marketing mavens depend on our desire to be in that state of normalcy.
So, we all think about being normal and fitting in, into some group, but take yourself back to your teen years. You might want to add in some thoughts about your identity as a Jewish teen, especially if you lived in an area lacking a large Jewish population.
Try to imagine dealing with the wrenching angst of feelings that you didn’t fit in.
Of being out of the place you coveted for whatever reason. And then think of the reasons you thought you couldn’t make the grade: wrong clothes, image, name, hair, really……it could have been for any reason at all. Logic, though trying to peek through the fog, has no role here.
Think about what you were thinking, feeling, or even how you were acting….did you think you were totally normal and just like everyone else?
Those years were tough, weren’t they? But you’re done now, and all grown up (debatable, I know).
Well, our teens live and breathe in that world, but now it’s even harder: more pressured, more intense, more public. There are fewer places to hide.
Did I say the right thing? Wrong thing? Will my peers/teachers/boy-girl friend hate me? Will this be posted on facebook? Who will see? What will my parents think? Where else will it be shared, and how quick? Who will be texting this? Who can I rally? What will happen in school tomorrow? Will everyone on the bus know? Maybe I should stay home?
They live in that excruciating difficult world of alternating fear, wonder and panic. They are surrounded by unanswerable questions and questionable answers that are nearly impossible to obtain with any certainty.
We can’t even begin to imagine. Well, it turns out that there is no ‘Normal’. Not really for anyone. That’s a relief, because what our teens are going through isn’t really normal, or is it?
Leave a comment | tags: Adolescence, Generations and Age Groups, Jewish Teens, Parenting, supplementary school teachers, Teenagers, Youth | posted in Adolescence, Jewish Educators, Jewish Teens, Life, Parenting, Teens, Youth
This news came to my Inbox today:”Today’s Campus is launching a new publication designed as a resource for the parents of the entering freshmen college class. The handbook is expected to reach over 1 million readers this summer as they prepare to take the first steps towards college.”
I experienced one of those odd moments when you find yourself laughing at something and wish you had someone right there to share the comedy. Right now, you’re my someone.
Check out this excerpt from above carefully: ‘as they prepare to take the first steps towards college.’ Now reread the entire quote above again. Who is the ‘they’ in the sentence? The handbook is clearly for parents, so it is the ‘they’ that made me laugh as I imagined parents packing for their first dorm room experience. But, maybe the ‘they’ is intentionally vague (doubtful).
Here are four reasons why what I read was either very, very smart, or totally stupid.
Either option by the way does not preclude huge marketing success.
Smart reason #1. The college admissions process has gotten more intense, more competitive, and financially burdensome for so many families. Perhaps there are real ways to grapple with these issues that the handbook will provide.
Smart reason #2. We know that the terms ‘helicopter’ and ‘hovering’ have been used to describe parents of incoming college students. Now there is yet something else to buy that will somehow ensure their child’s college success. Or they will read about some hints that will perhaps make them all crazier, or actually give them an outlet for their worry. Either way, smart marketing.
Totally stupid reason #3. Why give in to the trend of parents not letting their teens go? This handbook may be feeding the frenzy that I listed in smart reason #1. (I know, this gets complicated).
Totally stupid reason #4. For those savvy enough, it will be pretty self-evident that pages of the handbook will be devoted to advertising space for the best dorm room message board, the must-have comforter and sheet set, and so on.
When the Handbook comes out and you decide to buy one (pick your reason above) I’d love to hear how it all turns out.
Leave a comment | tags: Jewish Teens, Parent, Teenagers, University and college admissions | posted in Adolescence, College, Education, Jewish Teens, Life, Parenting, Teens
Imagine that you’re on a boat in the middle of the ocean in a thunderous storm. Waves are coming fast and furiously. Water is splashing inside and out, and luckily you’re still afloat. There is no fast escape.
How do you survive? What is the best strategy?
Just hold on–and be as steadfast as you can.
creative commons license
You’re experiencing what it’s like to be a parent of an adolescent. I can relate to your worries, concerns, problems, and fears.
You just need to hold on to your values and principles so you can stay the course.
How do I know?
I was once there.
From the many comments and responses I’ve exchanged with parents over the years regarding this period of rowboat rocking, and particularly how it pertains to continuing Jewish education, here are five points I’d like you to consider:
#1. you will have push back. Teens are hard-wired to rebel. It’s what they do. Don’t expect them to act differently. You just need to stay the course and don’t take it personally, but see #2.
#2. the push back will most often be in the areas that coincidentally are important to you. This will make you feel bad and start to question your judgement. You may feel that everything you’ve deemed important will be disregarded. Are you active in the Jewish community? Are you a Jewish educator? Guess what, your teen may give you the hardest time when Jewish education is up for discussion (it shouldn’t be). You’re in for a ride but again, hold on and stay the course. As parents, we are like farmers planting seeds for the future. Teens are into instant gratification. You can see the challenge.
#3. be glad that your teenager is rebelling now, which is better than later, when he/she is in college and faces so many more challenges. Plus, if that happens, you will not be there to set limits, be a supportive ear, or lend in-the-moment advice.
#4. being an authority figure doesn’t mean being authoritarian. Just because you are asserting your right to make decisions for your child, doesn’t mean that you’re ‘bossy’. Parents might be too afraid of taking a strong stance, but your teen will respect you for it, even if that realization comes years later. Remember the planting metaphor (see #2).
#5. I’ve never met anyone who said to me: I wish my parents didn’t ‘make me go’ to Hebrew High School. Granted, I interact with a select group, but I’ve heard this from both adults and teens. More education is a worthwhile pursuit. As Jews, we believe in the inherent value of study. It’s what has helped us survive through the millenia and it’s up to you to continue that tradition. Be strong and steadfast.
1 Comment | tags: Adolescence, Adolescents, Bar and Bat Mitzvah, Jewish education, Judaism, Parenting, Teenagers | posted in Adolescence, Education, Jewish Community, Judaism, Life, Parenting, Teens
Image via Wikipedia
Did this headline grab you? You’re not unique. It’s what seems to work for newspapers and television.
This is what I read in the New York Times this morning: “Raising a Teenager? What’s Not to Hate?” Not exactly what I like to read with my morning coffee, and I found the wording pretty distasteful.
What I wondered is how many click-throughs that headline got. But it got worse.
The article turned out to be a review of a tv show debuting tonight and actually said very little about teens and their parents. Except when the author made this indictment of children and teens everywhere:
“There’s nothing wrong with hating children, and teenagers all but ask for it.”
I don’t think the writer said this in jest; the article was more serious than that. Now my distaste has turned into disbelief and way more than dislike. I’m disarmed.
Why do teenagers seem to get a bad rep?
They are our future leaders, our creative spirits, and sometimes our conscience. They make us think about who we are and what we represent. They ask great questions.
There have been countless times, when planning programs in different venues, that the proprietor asked “You mean, your program is with TEENAGERS? How many? Will they be supervised? How many chaperones will there be? Are you insured? Has this been done before?
Even in the space our school shares on a weekly basis, there is an attitude that during break time ‘the kids are loud, create a mess and hang all over the furniture’.
Break time is what I love. There are close to 150 teenagers, all hanging out together, connecting with each other and their cellular devices…and it’s all good.
Put that into a headline.
3 Comments | tags: Adolescence, Jewish education, Jewish teenagers, Parent, Parenting, Teenagers, Television | posted in Adolescence, Education, Jewish Teens, Life, Parenting, Teens
Image via Wikipedia
Some parents are guilty of treating Jewish education like a side dish, something that will never star as the main course and won’t be terribly missed if not around either.
So often choices surrounding Jewish education seem like an afterthought, a rush job, something that’s done while in the middle of doing something else that’s way more important.
Basically, it is chosen as an option only if things work out. Otherwise, well, it’s not really a priority. Pretty harsh, huh?
How can I say such a thing? Just listen to my experience these past few weeks and judge for yourself. The type of phone calls I’ve received illustrate this, and there were actually more calls than I’m describing. I am open to hearing from you what your experiences have been.
One parent wanted to discuss her daughter’s enrollment during a prolonged red light.
Another parent called to ask about our program for his daughter, but he was about to board an airplane: “Okay, will rows……..” blared in the background as we were trying to discuss the different course options she’d take.
Another parent happened to breeze by the office at 6:15pm with questions that had to be answered right then because she was already late to go somewhere.
Another parent dropped by with his son to sign him up but could only spend 5 minutes on figuring out what program would be the right fit because he had a pressing work matter to attend to. Yet another asked her child to fill out the online application, and was in shock when it required a parent’s sign off (before we went paperless, it amazed me how many students completed the applications themselves).
People are sure busy and I understand the pressure to get so many things done. Plus, I am appreciative that we’re even part of the rush-job-life these people are juggling. I really am. I just wonder about the none-too-subtle messages that are given to teens when in general, their Jewish education is treated this way.
So here’s the recommendation: despite every activity that competes with commitments to Jewish education, involvement in Jewish learning is an important goal that is part of life’s meal, not a side dish. (This of course excludes those who have opted for the day school entrée).
Let’s not settle for being that low on the priority list. We want your teen to be part of our program, because we know there is value in participating.
Whatever commitments your family makes, place the proper value on the Jewish education part. Kids quickly get the message that it’s just not all that important to you from your actions, which counts much more than you think.
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