There was a time when I banned the word ‘teen’ from our home. Being that the concept of ‘teenagers’ is a relatively new phenomenon we wanted to avoid the whole drama that seems to be synonymous with those teenage years. But you may have noticed that I have changed. I dont’ avoid the word teen. I use it. What changed?

Thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen and nineteen.

Teen is in the word.

We have never embraced the typical teenage stereotype. It is and excuse to avoid maturity and responsibility and we don’t want to enable that. But being a teenager is more than chronological age… it is an attitude! But a true teenage attitude is a far cry from what society tells us it is. Avoiding a word isn’t going to make an awful lot of difference, in my opinion. Rather addressing the modern attitudes that define a ‘typical teenager’ will.

Today’s typical teenager will:

  • rebel against their parents and all authority
  • avoid responsibility
  • forms stronger ties with friends rather than family
  • and more. Much, much more.

And we, society, have come to accept this as normal. When and where did our expectation change? Society has adopted such a ridiculously low expectation of teenagers… this isn’t a word, it’s an attitude! We need to have higher expectations for our children during their ‘teen’ years and teach them that they can indeed rebel. They can rebel against the low expectations set by society!

Rather than tell my teens that they ‘can’t do this and they can’t do that’ I tell them what they can do – and the list is so much bigger!

I’ve had my eldest child join The Rebelution and now my 15yods is reading Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations. As my children got older and became teens I’ve tried to spend less time majoring on the words and more time discussing their purpose and possibilties with them. If you want to know more, you can start here with The Myth of Adolescence.

The bottom line for me is to call my children by terms that have high expectations… and after discussing what it truly means to be a ‘teen’ I feel quite comfortable in calling my young adults as ‘teens’. Barb Shelton has an interesting post on this topic. Check it out.

For me, the emphasis is on Concepts, not words. Ideas, not labels. Opportunities not avoidance. Possibilities not fear.

What about you? What terms do you use and why?