Introduction: Are Teenagers Necessary?
The Teenage Mystique
By Thomas Hine
I like to cite three quotes from readings “Introduction: Are Teenagers Necessary?” and “The Teenage Mystique.”
“Anne Freud theorized that the experience of adolescence is so filled with pain, trauma, and turmoil that our conscious minds suppress it. There is a serious problem with this theory, though. Survey after survey of young people show that they are not miserable at all. They have problems, of course, but they feel confident about coping with them” (p. 2).
I agree with Thomas Hine that Anne Freud’s theory is problematic. My personal experience and observations do not fit this theory. Adolescents or teenagers are not filled with pain, trauma and turmoil. They experience problems but adults experience problems, too. Teenagers should not be characterized with those words.
“Our beliefs about teenagers are deeply contradictory. They should be free to become themselves. They need many years of training and study. They know more about the future than adults do. They know hardly anything at all. They ought to know the value of a dollar. They should be protected from the world of work. They are frail, vulnerable creatures. They are children. They are sex fiends. They are the death of culture. They are the hope of us all” (p. 11).
I used to hear these kinds of statements about teenagers, but I am surprised when I see all of them together. If adults or society are so confused about who teenagers are how they can developed solutions for the problems of teenagers? I think one of the reasons of this confusion is that teenagers are not a homogeneous group. There are many kinds of teenagers. From thirteen to fifteen, there are big differences among them.
“On the night of June 6, 1997, an eighteen year old woman from Fork River, New Jersey, gave birth to a six pound-six ounce baby boy in the women’s rest room of the catering hall where her high school senior prom was taking place. Her son was found dead, tied in a plastic bag in a trash can in the lavatory where he was born. His mother meanwhile was dancing, smiling, and to all outward appearances, enjoying what’s supposed to be a magical night” (p. 12).
This is really an unacceptable crime. The mom was cruel. It is hard to understand what kind of a personality she had. Her behaviors must be condemned. However, it is also hard how this event can be used to characterize a very large group of people called teenagers. Obviously, a teenager did something very wrong. There are also many adults doing things worse that what she did. Should we use to characterize adults by using the crimes committed by some adults. I think this is unfair.