There are people we meet who excite us, who make us feel alive. We want more of them and what they bring to our lives. When we choose our friends, we see ourselves in them, caring and concern for us and our well-being, wanting the most for us. They give us certain types of love that we can’t find elsewhere and make us feel like we “fit in.” We have our “heroes,” either mythical characters like Batman or Superman, or people who have achieved recognition through sports, music, movies, or other occupations that the media covers unrelentingly.
Everyone wants to be important, to be recognized as unique, to have fame in the eyes of others. That is normal. We see that fame, but we don’t always see the dangerous or back side of it: loss of freedoms and safety, lack of privacy and personal identity, constantly having to be “on” in front of others and performing a role for which they have gained fame and fortune. They have gone beyond the limits, to some extent, and we want to experience the limitlessness for ourselves. Those experiences can be exhausting and depressing, but we never see that side of it.
Adolescents want to fit in, be like others, yet at the same time stand out and be important. That is the same as everyone else. But sometimes we look around and see that others have “more” than we do – more friends, more fun, more excitement, more freedom, more experiences. We envy them and want to be like them. But what is the cost?
Trouble Often Starts Out As Fun
Some teens have no curfews, have parents who don’t monitor everything they do or where they go, have exciting and thrilling experiences defying rules and regulations of school and community. Their activities may be “forbidden”: experimenting with drugs and/or alcohol, having sexual relationships, stealing and/or bullying others, having friends who go places far away without their parents. They challenge authority figures at home (parents), school (teachers and administrators), and in the community (police), yet they rarely pay any consequences for their activities. They get their thrills and excitement by challenging rules and laws and avoiding consequences. Their lives seem to have the fun that others’ lives lack.
But is it fun? Their relationships with parents are argumentative and combative. Their school performance is usually poor and they drop out of school early, drifting for many years. Eventually, they get caught somewhere or somehow doing something illegal and have no way of avoiding it. Police, employers, relatives or friends show them and everyone else what they are like. They then must face consequences of being homeless, being poor, being rejected by family members and those they once thought were friends, or even spending time in jail.
Everyone wants to have fun, but we need to learn to discriminate between good, clean fun and dangerous, exciting fun. We need to decide who and what we will be like. When you choose friends who often have trouble, you are saying you want the same trouble. Is that worth losing other relationships for? Only you can make that decision.
Jennifer Little, Ph.D.
All children can succeed in school. Parents can help their children by teaching the foundational skills that schools presume children have. Without the foundation for schools’ academic instruction, children needlessly struggle and/or fail. Their future becomes affected because they then believe they are less than others, not able to succeed or achieve or provide for themselves or their families. Visit http://parentsteachkids.com to learn how to directly help your child and http://easyschoolsuccess.com to learn what is needed for education reform efforts to be successful.