As you may or may not know, I am a Registrar at a Secondary (grades 7-12) School. Because of my job, I spend 10 hours a day, 5 days a week with teenagers ranging from 12 to 19 years old.
As you may or may not (also) know, I am the Activity's Day leader in my ward. This means that I spend 2 hours a month with 8-11 year old girls.
Sometimes when I come home from work I am discouraged. I feel like there is no hope for kids these days. Like they are all out there hardly wearing any clothes, piercing everything, using words I had never heard of till I started working here, making out in front of people and doing heaven only knows what else behind closed doors, making crude remarks, disrespecting teachers, their parents and their peers, getting in fights, shoplifting, doing drugs and drinking and just making bad choices.................
That is not to say that all of the kids here are like that, but a lot of them are involved in one or all of these things and that is cause for concern.
I am concerned because I don't want my future children to get wrapped up in all of the craziness of adolescents, but I am not entirely sure how to prevent it. It sometimes seems like a hopeless cause.
But then I go to Activity's Day or a church function and I feel so much better! I mean, here I have 12 year olds who still act like 12 year olds! They are still innocent and naive and happy and seemingly untouched by the world. There are 15 year olds who don't go to prom because they aren't going to date until they are 16 and there are 16 year olds who don't go on single dates because they aren't 18.
These kids get good grades, they wear stylish, modest clothes. They have friends, they have morals, they don't get in trouble. They smile and laugh and have fun hanging out. These are good, happy kids.
This group includes my sister and brother and Jon's younger siblings - heck all of us kids - we were all good, modest and extremely happy children.
So what is the difference between the delinquents at my school and these "normal" kids? I think I have it figured out and the answer may already be extremely obvious to you - it's the family.
Now, your "typical Mormon family" has regular family home evening, scripture study, they pray together, uplift each other, they get to know each other's friends and they encourage each other in worthy activities.
It's not just Mormon families who participate in this kind of behavior - we just have names for things like "family home evening" so it is easier to explain.....
Basically good families are involved in each other's lives, even borderline nosey, and that naturally creates normal, well-balanced adolescents.
I am not a mom, I'm not an expert, I am just a Registrar and an Activity's day leader, and this is just an observation.........
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