I love working with teenagers

“I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on the frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond words. When I was a boy, we were taught to be discrete and respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly wise and impatient of restraint.”

While these words could have been written today, they are in fact attributed to Hesiod, who is said to have written them in the 8th century B.C. Society’s fear and frustration with our young people has been with us for – literally – thousands of years. If you were to pick up the newspaper or watch T.V as a way to find out about the current generation of young people, you would find a bleak picture, a tale of a generation that is self-centered, materialistic, irresponsible, disrespectful, violent and uneducated. My experience of young people today, however, couldn’t be further from this depressing image.

I love teenagers. For real! I find them to be highly creative, funny, honest, direct, hardworking, connected, funny, passionate, energetic, caring, funny, open-minded, and involved. And did I mention funny? Definitely funny. They always win me over with the funny.

This turns out to be a good thing, because I’m the Community Services Supervisor at Teenage Medical Service, also known as TAMS. TAMS is Children’s very own teen clinic, and we’re located in a renovated, comfortable Victorian house just a block north of Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis. TAMS provides expert medical and mental health care for about 2,000 young people ages 10 to 22 each year and works with local schools and community agencies to ensure that young people and their parents have the skills and knowledge to stay healthy.

I feel lucky to have worked at TAMS for the past 11 years. At TAMS, teens find what they want and need most from their health care providers – respectful, non-judgmental care. I am proud to say that the TAMS staff does an amazing job of providing an atmosphere that is welcoming to teens, from the front desk to the nurses, to the medical providers and the lab techs. I tell teens that everyone who works at TAMS works there because they really like young people. It’s apparent, every time a new patient walks through the door.

I’m also the parent of a 13-year-old daughter and an 11-year-old son, so after 20 years of Youth Work I now get to experience the joy of parenting teens firsthand. And believe it or not, I’m actually looking forward to it!

As a writer for the Kids’ Health Blog, I hope to discuss topics related to teens, health care and parenting. I find that so many parents had great support parenting younger children but have a harder time finding help for navigating the teen years. It is a time of life that can be highly stressful and sometimes the rewards don’t come until kids are older. Whether it’s talking to kids about sex, finding ways to stay connected, dealing with the volatility of moods or worrying about some of the alarming statistics that are in the news about STDs, teen violence and drug use, parents of teens have a big job to do. I hope to provide support and perspective here to help.

What do you worry about most with your teens? What topics would you like to see discussed on the Kid’s Health Blog related to teens? My experience is that the best advice comes from other parents so I would love to see active discussions in the comment section.

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