One of the beauties of a small community is everyone knows everyone else. What a sense of peace to send your child home with friends or neighbors you have known since birth. Throughout elementary school we were blessed with friendships and families whose values reflected our own. The picturesqueness continued.
Once we ventured from the safe, secure world of elementary school into the tumultuous world of middle school, I caught my first glimpse of what could be considered as the flaw of our community. The same close knit neighbors who shared in each step of our childhood adventures continued to look out for our children.....but somewhere along the line the collaborative approach to raising a community of well- rounded individuals had been replaced with an air of righteousness, superiority, and condemnation. The complex situation we were placing adolescents in became clear. It was like our teens were being placed in a fishbowl where all of their actions were magnified. To make matters worse, these eyes belonged to parents who somehow felt other adolescents mistakes somehow validated their superiority as a parent....so everyone patted themselves on the back by focusing on the indiscretions of others. I have never really understood how discussing the length of Mary Sue's shorts made someone feel like a better parent?
Adolescence, by definition, is the period where our children are suppose to make mistakes...because that is a cornerstone of finding out who you are....and isn't that what adolescents are doing? The grownups they learned as children to trust and value the opinions of are the same people who are becoming the most critical of their actions. As a teacher who habitually works with middle school and high school students, I can promise you they are ALL going to make mistakes. They need to experience mistakes, and the consequences and embarrassment that accompany them, but they need to also know this is normal and not be made to feel like they are evil. I would not want to grow up in the world we live in today.......I know I made lots of mistakes as a teen, but there were no I-phones to video each mistake, no Instagram to share it with 253 people, who then each snapshot it and send it on to 10 other people...ect. I made my mistakes in the company of a handful of friends, went to school the next day and felt a little awkward around them, and then a few weeks later someone else made a mistake and it was all forgotten about. Well, maybe that is a good consequence of all this technology- bet we don't have to wait weeks until the next person makes a mistake:)