Identity Crisis- A rising problem with kids today.

If you have noticed, social media now determines much of how a teen or even adult should dress, walk, talk, act, etc..

Back many years ago,there were bad guys, and good guys, and Cleaver type families and Brady Bunch types. Not so today. More and more, teens are spending less and less time with their families, who used to determine much of how one developed their belief system, their actions, and the respect shown to others. Today, we have gangs, not gangsters, thugs, and “wanna be” thugs”, emo, skater, stoner, and even the lesbian/gay movement has become somewhat popular at the middle school levels. Very different then it was a generation ago.

Why is this? There have been many studies showing the link between kids who do not have a solid family life at home, and the desire to find one outside the home. Here we are not discussing normal teenage changes, fads, and phases. We are talking about kids leaving the traditional family unit behind, and looking for that feeling elsewhere. In my time working one on one with hardened gang members, without fail, when asked, they would have loved to have had a “normal” family to turn to, but the gang life was the only way they could find the love and allegiance they longed for. This is very different from those families who just have a very busy life but still make time for the kids and family to spend quality time together. I am referring to people who have let their children decide who to hang out with, how to dress, where to go, and what language is acceptable, at a young age. The ages from 6 on up are important, but when 12 and 13 approach, we need to be very active and set boundaries that cannot be crossed. A child’s job is to test boundaries. Once we set boundaries it is critical to keep them.

I will use an example as evidence that this not only works, but is the true desire of any child to have boundaries in place by their parents and other authority figures. As an administrator of a high school in Florida, I decided to find out what kids really wanted form their parents. I must make you aware that the kids I was dealing with had all been expelled from public schools, for weapons, drugs, or gang affiliation. I had about 60 total students to work with. I had heard over and over how they hated their parents, they were never around, or they would often say their parents gave up on them anyways. I noticed however, that I and the other staff were treated with the utmost respect, and the very rigid rules, were for the most part upheld. I created a worksheet that listed 10 social skills and the steps to following them. For example, Following Instructions = Look at the person, say ok,  do the task, and check back with the adult. Hardly anything they were used to doing. After the worksheet was completed, I passed them out as a survey to all the students, asking to be honest, and put no names down. After it was completed, the surveys showed that about 90% of the students enjoyed having to adhere to these guidelines at my school, and the same percent wished their parents would have done the same! Amazing? Not really. It provides security for kids, when a parent sets firm boundaries, and holds them to those rules. Think of it this way..if you went to visit an under construction high rise condominium, maybe 100 stories tall, and at the top floor, the following scenario took place; You are 100 stories up, walking through a luxury condo when the broker says, “go look at the view from the balcony!” You walk to the glass door, take a step out, and realize their are no fences or rails on the balcony! You scramble back in out of breath and ask the broker what they were thinking sending them out 100 stories up with no protection from just falling right off of the edge! The answer you get, is  ” Oh, they have not installed those yet, they are purely cosmetic and the last things to be put in”. “What? I almost walked off the edge!  You should have rails before you show this “.

It’s about security. No small 4 foot rails would keep a person from falling over the edge if the person wanted to. It just gave them a sense of security. That is what kids want today. Security, not a parent that is a buddy. A parent that provides security.

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Author: (Don't Label My Kid! Coaching & Counseling Team)

Social Worker- Mental Health, Addictions, and Behavioral health- Leadership Educator-, Juvenile Justice. A variety of coaching. I have a great desire to help others make it through times that I myself have had to navigate. I understand the process, the pain,and the support needed. I, and the rest of my team all have both the formal education to coach others but more importantly we also have the life experience which allows us to relate to all the phases and hurdles that come with recovering from issues like depression, addiction, domestic violence, spiritual confusion, and much more. I feel that the combination of formal training and life experience allows us to meet those we help every point of need- in a real way.

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