When I see a family out and there's a teenage daughter among them, she's usually wearing shorts or a skirt so short that she may as well be wearing her handbag. She'll often be wearing a tube top or halter top covering her not yet developed chest, barely. And the parents obviously don't care, and that bothers me. I don't think I would let my daughter go out of the house like that, I don't give a damn what the trend is. I know how boys are, and I know how I was as a girl, and the least I could do for my daughter is make it a little harder for her to have sex at too early an age than my mother did. My thing was dressing in baggy sweatshirts and looking as homely as possible, so my mother had no clue I had lost my virginity at 13.

I was listening to Garrison Keillor on Prairie Home Companion earlier tonight and he had said that parents today had become so modern, so progressive, that their kids would almost have to become right wing terrorists or business capitalists in order to rebel against their parents. You wonder if the urge to rebel as a teen is inborn or strictly dependant on society. From what I've seen, it is inborn, but now kids have to actually search for ways to do it. It's like this thing they must do, even when everything around them would tell them that it is no longer necessary. I wonder if what it means to be a teen is doomed to become extinct as some point.

I thought it was healthy to believe at that age that you knew everything when you obviously didn't, to be spontaneous and sharp tongued and witty and stupid, because you are supposed to survive it and eventually grow out of it, not die during it. I thought that the best time to be this way was before you were automatically responsible for what you said and did, when it was safer and you were not always thinking of the consequences. And I still think it's healthy for teens to pout and sulk when they don't get their way with their parents. There is a reason for all of it. If we think we can evolve this out of our maturation, we are committing a great disservice, to the kids we raise and to ourselves.

It's always easier to give into a teen's wants than it is to stand up, even if you don't always know why you are refusing them. But is allowing them to dress and act like adults when you know they are not ready any better for them, it is any easier?

I see teens today and they often have that look in their eyes like, I must rebel, I must do something mom and dad won't approve of, and even now, at this Cracker Barrel, I am waiting for my chance. I see them in cars or anywhere without their parents and they just seem to want to break something. Not all teens are this extreme, but the ones you'll see in public are; that's how it's always been. I'm not petitioning for better mannered teens to step forward, or even for the bad kids to straighten up, but I am saying that parents have to do something. If they don't we will fear teens for all the wrong reasons.

Maybe I am old fashioned, but I'm getting the impression from other people my age that if they had kids to raise, they would be old fashioned too, that there is a need for it now more than ever, as we rush toward the future and forget human nature, the growth patterns of people that have always been there and continue to be there no matter how much we ignore them. Some things about humans cannot be erased nor can they be discarded. When we try to, we cheat ourselves of time. We speed up the standard, we erase childhood, we eradicate the need for families, for love and hate, for confrontation and argument, for life in all its ugly parts that usher in beauty in the end. We forget our own nature. This is just one of the ways it starts.

The phenomenon of socially visible teenagers is a new one, and not, as the first writeup in this node assumes, a natural progression of human development.

Teenage culture exploded in America, and later spread to the rest of the world, in the fifties. The post war economic boom lead to teenagers being able to earn money for themselves while still being secure in the parental home, which turned them almost overnight into viable and rapacious consumers of all things radical. The advent of the pill lead to an increase of teenage sex coupled with a fall in the number of teenage marriages. Essentially, a period of life was created between childhood and adulthood which did not exist before.

Prior to that era, teenagers were either working for a living, studying, or married. Although a cliche, it is nevertheless true and important to remember that children were a part of the work force as soon as they could walk during the industrial revolution, and that children in the thirld world today still are. The average age of marriage was almost half of what it was today. People simply did not have the time to wallow in sullen misery for a few years before getting on the right track in life.

The obliteration of the teenage phenomenon, therefore, if indeed it is on the cards (and I can't see that myself) would be neither unnatural nor dangerous. It will simply be a return to normal patterns of growing up. Neither does the lack of strict discipline and open rebellion mean the shortening of childhood. Childhood, in the romantic sense we tend to think of it in, is much more in danger fom the media, the internet and rampant consumerism and capitalism.

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