Finally, all the campaign fliers, door hangers, advertisements, yard signs and robo calls have paid off. This fall’s election campaign has helped me identify with my teenage children.
I think I get it. The messages they’ve been shouting at me for the past couple of years are much more clear.
As a voter who has been pushed to the brink of sanity with the crazy blitz of campaign literature and messages, I hear what the teens are saying.
Wow, all that candidate effort can influence me. I’ve learned teens and voters share some common threads.
Leave me alone.
All the television and radio commercials, volunteer phone calls, door-knocking and mailings are me, bombarding my children with information that doesn’t interest them and they don’t care to know. All that election information coming at me is like the sound of my voice droning to them. Eventually they tune me out.
Don’t tell me what to do.
Teenagers want to make their own decisions. They don’t want to be told what to do. They remind me they’ve been raised to be responsible citizens capable of making good choices and not being swayed by peer pressure or outside forces.
The more I try to force my sage advice on them, the more they turn away. I get the cold shoulder, the eye roll, the big hand, the can’t-hear-you-I-have-my-headphones-in gesture, or, in some cases, the stomping of feet and the shutting of a bedroom door.
They can be spiteful.
They’ll turn on you and do the opposite just to prove a point. As a reminder they are entering adulthood, they will in some instances do exactly what I’ve asked them not to do just to make me mad, proving to me they really are becoming adults by choosing to behave like many others out there.
If we’ve done our job as a parents, teaching and guiding them in their decision-making process; if we’ve raised them to look at how their decisions will impact themselves, others or the community around them; and we’ve fostered in them the instinct to not take everything at face value or be swayed by public opinion, but to look deeper into the reasons and motives behind their decisions and those of others, then we should trust them to make choices of their own.
Teens, I’ve come to realize, and voters are not too different.