What to Tell Teens Who Complain About Being Bored

teenagersThe teen years are filled with uncertainty, nail biting worry, and questionable behavior ... for parents. Kids can make us nuts; teens finish us off. They are these able-bodied almost adults running loose often without the ability to make sensible decisions. And many of those bad decisions come when teens are bored. Which they almost always seem to be.

I was reading the book Five Little Monkeys With Nothing to Do by Eileen Christelow to my kids and thought this is perfect! My little ones will learn that you can't ever be bored -- there are always rugs to beat dirt out of, rooms to be cleaned, and berries to be picked for mama. Great message, but the book is for the wee ones who clearly forget the sentiment once teenage brain takes over. Well, Northland College Principal John Tapene took the words he heard from a judge who often deals with troubled youth and shared them in a very clear way, maybe even harsh way.


Always we hear the cry from teenagers "What can we do, where can we go?"

My answer is this: Go home, mow the lawn, wash the windows, learn to cook, build a raft, get a job, visit the sick, study your lessons, and after you've finished, read a book. Your town does not owe you recreational facilities and your parents do not owe you fun.

The world does not owe you a living, you owe the world something. You owe it your time, energy and talent so that no one will be at war, in sickness and lonely again. In other words, grow up, stop being a cry baby, get out of your dream world and develop a backbone not a wishbone. Start behaving like a responsible person. You are important, you are needed. It's too late to sit around and wait for somebody to do something someday. Someday is now and that somebody is you!

Well, well, well. He said something all of us thought, but maybe not enough of us say. I also think so adults would benefit from these words as well. We need to be humble and appreciative. There is always something to do ... beyond putting on the television and mindlessly watching it for hours and hours and hours day after day. We shouldn't wait for hand-outs -- working hard is not just good for getting things you want and need, but it's good for the soul.

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Though I do think we need a backbone AND a wishbone. Wishing is dreaming. Dreaming is often how amazing things happen, how creativity blossoms, which I think is vital for kids, even adults. We should never stopped dreaming, aspiring, and then making that reality.

Still, it's tough to say how some teens would react to these words. Some may just shrug it off because of how the tone would be read. We may need to focus more on the inspirational than the "do this" tactic.

What do you think of these words for teens? Too harsh? Or needed?


Image via crazytales562/Flickr

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