I have years experience of living and working with teenage girls. For example; four sisters, one daughter, four granddaughters, teaching home economics, counseling in schools, and teaching at universities. Even so, I don’t consider myself an expert on the subject of teenage girls; each is too unique. I only know they enrich my life.
I recently had the honor of being invited to a prom dress shopping trip. It included a pageant, a fashion show, and hundreds of girls choosing their perfect prom dress from seemingly thousands of gorgeous, elegant, and sparkling gowns.
The large conference room was buzzing with giggles, ooh’s and aah’s, and even a few tears. As grandma, I had no distinct responsibilities, only pure enjoyment. I had a blast watching the chaos, helping with the gathering and delivering of dresses, and feeling the awe as each young woman turned in front of mirrors.
The two-day event made me smile all over. I appreciated the girl’s authentic transparency; they spoke their minds, showed their feelings, and clarified their opinions.
What does all of this have to do with mental health? It has to do with the benefits of being around young people. Don’t get me wrong, I like people of all ages, but teenagers make me laugh, think differently, and feel hope for the future. These kids are bright, insightful, and contrary to popular belief, they are not on their phones any more than most adults.
So, if you are feeling sad or unmotivated, find a teenager to visit; volunteer at a school, get involved with a youth group, attend local sports events, text kids in your life and let them know you’re thinking of them.
And, if you are a teenager, remember it works both ways. I had a wonderful weekend because I was invited to join the adventure. Some ideas: You could visit residents in a nursing home, often stop to see grandparents, or volunteer to present at a book club or service organization such as Rotary or Elks. Be creative; there are many friends and family members who would be delighted to see you and hear about your hurts, joys, and dreams.
Connecting with people, not your age, can be enlightening and satisfying. Exchange your critical hat for your fun hat, and have a blast, as I did.
When did you last enjoy the company of someone, not your age?
Until the next time: Live while you live.
Jennifer Goble, Ph.D., LPC, is the author of “My Clients…My Teachers,” and the blogger and writer of Rural Women Stories: www.ruralwomenstories.com.
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