Often teenagers have their own customs and language, some of which is indecipherable to adults. Their clothes, their music, and their vocabulary may seem strange. Were we like this as young people?
Culture is all around us but difficult to see. It’s easier to pinpoint when a culture is different from our own precisely because of the differences. People outside of a given culture can probably discern the values and beliefs of those inside the culture better than the insiders themselves.
For example, there is some revealing/humorous online content about ‘what white people like’ and ‘stuff white people do.’ These ideas are funny because it can be surprising to learn that white culture is a thing – especially for white people - and not just the regular state of affairs we accept as ‘normal.’
Why teenagers create their own culture
Teenagers are growing into individuals distinct from their parents and families. It is developmentally appropriate for teens to locate and highlight the ways they are NOT like their parents. Youth will begin to spend more time with pals and identify with the attitudes and conduct of their peer group. This is part of their journey to adulthood.
Moms and dads will notice there are certain ‘cool’ people for their kids to be friends with and ‘cool’ places to hang out. There is a right way to style hair and some acceptable ways to spend your time. Us parents know all too well that we wear the label of being uncool and that our interests are mostly seen as unpopular.
How to infiltrate teen culture
Have you noticed that if you try to win your teenager’s acceptance you definitely won’t? Don’t aim to be the cool parent; you will never succeed with your own young people and you may run the risk of being seen as a poser (heaven forbid!). Closeness and authenticity should be your goals instead.
Emotional closeness with our children is what fortifies our ability to parent. If you can find something to laugh about when your kid rolls their eyes at you, if you can be relaxed when teenage frustrations rise, and if you can be a safe person who will listen when they come home late and want to share stories, then believe me – you’re doing it right.
When parents feel good about themselves and secure in their relationship to their teen, knowing they play an important role no matter if they are rocking the dad bod or mom haircut, you will look cool in the eyes of the other young people around, just not the ones you are related to. This can be a great parenting advantage because the teenagers may vote to hang out in your yard or go with your family to the lake. This is a win for everyone because you will have an opportunity to better know and understand your teen and their friends, and they will have the chance to observe you (although they won’t act like they are noticing you) modelling adulthood. Just make sure you take on that responsibility and present the kind of maturity you would like to see them learn.
Family and Fernie culture
Status and acceptance are indicators of culture. If everyone in your family is married and your teenager declares their interest in living common law with a partner, this information may face disapproval. If you live in Fernie and are a decent skier with at least 30 days on your pass each year, you will likely be regarded with respect as the kind of person who is part of the community.
What do you value in your family? The things that are important in your home really make up the foundation of your family culture. A Friday night ritual of pizza and movie? Reading together? Wednesday date night for mom and dad? Saying grace? Constant communication with notes and text messages?
Folks from other cultures are interesting yet foreign, even if that means they are from a different town or family or continent. The more global we are, the more sub-cultures are formed. It’s delightful to get to know people and places that are unusual, and it is wonderful to know where we belong.