June 28, 2005

Amandagon: My love-making is your experimentation

Pandagon: My love-making is your experimentation:

I remember being a teenager and I'm sure that most people here do as well. Nothing, but nothing, pissed me off more than adults telling me that my feelings weren't real because I hadn't passed the age of 18 yet. I didn't like being told I didn't love my boyfriend, because I did, or that my traumas and joys were somehow less real due to my youth. I realize that it's traditional to devalue teenagers like this, for what reason I couldn't tell you, but all it does is amplify rebellious feelings. Want kids to think you're completely out of touch? Tell 'em what they consider love-making is mere experimenting.

Two fantastic examples spring to mind immediately.

Most obviously, a friend who I'll call A. I met her just a little over two years ago now, when she was 17. She'd just had a major fight and broken up with her boyfriend of like three years, and one of the first things she told me was how everyone told her that it didn't matter, because it wasn't really love, they were 'too young'. Two years later, they're planning on getting together the first chance they get, in the Fall, and she's hearing a lot of the same, that marriage is 'too big' for people who are 'too young', 'only' 19 and 21.

I've heard of a lot of 'young' marriages that fail; but I've also heard of a lot of 'old' marriages that go the same way. Maybe A and her fiancee aren't in love, this is all a fantastic mistake, driven by fleeting good looks and great sex; or maybe what they have is as perfect and amazing as anyone can hope to find. But the only way for anyone to know is for them to do what they think is best, and live with all the wonderful and horrible and awesome consequences. I wish them all the best, and a long and happy life together.

The second example is my step-sister, Rachel, who turns 17 this Fall. Admittedly, Rachel has a bit of a temper, and can hold a grudge like no-one I've ever seen. But, in a vicious cycle, a lot of Rachel's rage is directed at her mother, who in turn seems to hold only the most token respect for Rachel's desire to have some control over Rachel's life: Rachel's curfew at her mother's is an hour earlier than at her father's, her diary and IM chat logs are often read without her permission, and almost all the problems with that relationship and with her life are blamed exclusively on her. My dad's new wife, unfortunately, treats her teenage daughter like a twelve-year-old; while my dad, in a display of equally poor teenager parenting, declares all her actions to be part of a 'phase', or symptoms of some generic teenage desire 'to find her own identity'. No wonder the poor girl feels like no-one has any respect or sympathy for her; I'm inclined to agree with her a lot of the time.

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