[VIDEO] Teens, Young Adults Tell Parents What's What

At a lively presentation Monday, teens talked to parents about their lives, then young adults who followed less traditional paths told their stories.

The lucky people who attended Monday night's joint presentation by Bob Houghtaling's TLC group and volunteers from the Teen Center got the yin and yang of the teen experience. It was impressive.

The Teen Leadership Consortium (otherwise known as the TLC) got the evening rolling by breaking into three different groups, with TLC members sitting in with each group directing the discussion in three areas: school stress, social media, and communication. 

The idea came out of a TLC meeting earlier in the fall, when several students talked about the expectations they feel from school, their parents, and even themselves. Monday night's event was a chance to do just that – to try to talk to parents as a group directly and let them know how it feels to be a teenager in 2012.

The teenagers were remarkably open and surprisingly supportive of parents' attempts to wean their kids off social media, for instance. 

"It's going to be a struggle, but it's worth it, it's definitely worth it," said one student about the need for parents to make their kids turn away from Facebook, Twitter, and text messages while they do their homework.

"They have to have boundaries," said another student. 

One parent voiced concern about her child being forced to use social media for homework assignments, but the teens said teachers made exceptions for those kids. Although they also suggested it was not helpful for kids to be excluded from something that's now so pervasive.

When it came to communication, one student told parents not to argue with their kids when they complained about a teacher. "Let us," she said. "Just listen."

Another student urged parents to re-think how they handle a child's disappointing test grade. 

"Instead of, 'That's bad,' try 'You did poorly – how can you do better next time?'"

Several students said their favorite day of the week was Wednesday because it starts a bit later and they have Advisory. Advisory is a period in which the same group of students meet with a particular staff member once a week. They can talk, play games, study.

"Advisory is so relaxing," said one student. "It's such a stress reliever."

Interestingly, despite all the angst about overscheduled kids, a couple of students noted they do better with a full schedule than when not much is going on. 

"An object in motion stays in motion," said one student.

The second half of Monday night's program was devoted to three young men who'd attended EGHS but had trouble while there. While two graduated, the third ended up dropping out. 

While all three had difficult roads during high school, each of them said their lives were on the right track now. Their stories were powerful – to see them in action, watch the video attached here.

Roberta Quinlan December 05, 2012 at 06:48 PM
I applaud the students, parents, educators, and law enforcement for organizing and offering Monday evening’s program. The topics were timely, provocative and well-presented by some really bright East Greenwich students. The parents were engaged; questions were asked and well answered. This sort of programming with teens and parents on a level playing field is a tremendous channeling of the teens’ talents and resources. Thank you Teens and Mr. Houghtaling for inviting us parents! The real heroes of the program, however, were the three young men who stood up in front of us strangers sharing their home and student life experiences, explaining to us how they were not an exact fit – academically, socially or philosophically – with the number one school district in Rhode Island. They each revealed their personal fears and disappointments in their young lives and in our school district. It is remarkable to me how each of them has been able to find the inner strength and courage to pull themselves up and create real workable plans for their futures. Congratulations, and Godspeed!
robert w. houghtaling December 05, 2012 at 08:45 PM
I have had the good fortune to have met the mentioned individuals and my experience was up lifting I believe as they continue with their lives the will be a wonderful contribution to all they come in contact with , in Rhode Island. Bob Houghtaling Sr.
Jean Ann Guliano December 06, 2012 at 03:09 PM
I think this is the best and most moving video ever posted on Patch. With everything these young men have had to endure throughout their lives, they are certainly standing tall, now. I'm not sure why a teacher would ever encourage a student to 'drop out' but I know it does happen. Thankfully, people like Bob and others encouraged the opposite, and more importantly, these three had the courage to continue against the odds. On top of that, they are great guys! As a community, I hope we all continue to listen to our teens. Grown-ups don't always have all the answers.
Elizabeth McNamara December 06, 2012 at 04:04 PM
Thanks, Jean Ann. I was so happy I had my camera with me and that the three men allowed me to tape them. A credit to them.
Lisa Alexander December 09, 2012 at 09:43 AM
I completely agree with Ms. Quinlan....the true hero's here are the three boys who had to really work hard and struggle to get where they are. I congratulate these three young for their determination with over coming the odds. Best wishes to you all.


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