From Romeo and Juliet to Pyramus and Thisbe and beyond, teens having been teeing off parents in their romantic choices for thousands of year. If this has been going on that long, what chance do we have in getting today's teens to do any better?
Let's imagine the following to be true for a moment:
1) It is in a teen's DNA to want to experience romantic love. (Remember, people didn't live that much past their '30s for most of recorded history, so families were started right after puberty.)
2) It is also deeply ingrained in teens to challenge authority. (This would come in handy when caveman B didn't want caveteen C to rub those sticks together and make that fire thing because that wasn't what cavegrandpa A did).
3) It is very much part of every teen to want to be part of a collective. (Back to our cave... more people together, less likely that you are the sabertooth's happy meal)
So how does this play out for today's teens if it is in their DNA to want the above three things, which put them at odds with their families? Throughout history, we have had many elders that the upcoming generation could go to and learn from in different ways. It was through ritual, tribe and faith (with a special nod to fear) that the clans survived.
Transposing that into today's world: we have supplanted romantic love with inhuman cosmetic ads and reality TV shows with medically altered contestants. We have replaced the authority of family with scientists (9 out of 10 doctors proscribe bland-ex) and our predilection for tribes shows up for the best and worst in flash mobs and social media.
Can you blame a kid for feeling messed up about romance?
How do we model romance in a world where companies spend billions of dollars a year convincing us to consume stuff to compensate for the inadequacies that they convinced us we had?
- The best thing a father can do for his daughter is love his wife.
- The best thing a mother can do for her son is love her husband.
- Taking the time for each other as parents and showing one's affection for each other creates a great model for romantic love.
- Arguing with each other using healthy conflict-resolution skills will help your children in many future situations.
- Taking quality time with your children from reading to them in bed, to letting them teach you what they have learned or about their hobbies empowers them and allows them to seek out similar people who want to embrace the best in life.
So when your young adult comes to you in puppy-love wanting to give or get some flowers from someone you are not sure you want in your house, smile and make sure they remember the following:
Romance, rising above your parents and finding like-minded people can become the passing of the torch to teens in the very best of ways when we commit to loving, healthy relationships and bring these qualities into our daily family lives.
And for those who can't... there's always blandex.
Follow Ken Rabow on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Mentor4YouthMPW