So many times, we hear negative things about teenagers – how much trouble they are, how much trouble they cause, how hard they are to raise. Having a couple of pre-teens, Marcel and I are often warned about the teen years and so we’ve assumed it was a time to dread. We’ve heard all the horror stories of teen angst, troubles in school, hormones, drug and alcohol abuse, etc., and it doesn’t look pretty. “Just you wait” is a commonly-heard phrase.

Lately, however, I’ve been struck by the number of really decent likeable teenagers around us, and I have been hugely encouraged. Last night was a good example. We were at a barbecue at our friends’ Yvonne and George’s along with a few other families. Our kids were the youngest ones there. After supper, while the adults relaxed on the deck, watching the sun set over the trees (aaahhhh :-), the kids played a rousing game of soccer in their large backyard.

Nikki and Julie played with the group of mostly teen boys, and it was a delight to watch. Either they were just exceptional teens and they would have turned out well regardless, or our friends are doing a bang-up job of raising decent teens. They were so great to our girls. And not just in a patronizing “we have to be nice to the young kids because the adults are watching” kind of way, but in a respectful, generous, “we like hanging out with these kids” way. I was really touched by it, and I know that my girls felt genuinely valued as members of the soccer teams.

I guess that’s part of the beauty of raising kids in a meaningful community, where people of all ages respect and like each other. I really like my friends’ teenage kids. They’re decent and respectful, and I’m glad my daughters have good role models. I guess we’ll just have to keep surrounding ourselves with great teens and maybe we’ll get lucky when our girls reach that stage.

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