The Teen Years – A Scary Time of Life

I often say that “the teen years are a perilous time of life,” meaning that bad things can and do happen. Sometimes really bad things. Like a teenager being killed. If you think this is an overstatement, consider the sad case of Kristina Lowe. When she was 18, a combination of alcohol, marijuana, speeding and texting while driving caused her to lose control of her vehicle one icy night, killing two of her teen friends.

These tragedies are not uncommon. I live near San Antonio, Texas, and I read news stories like this so often that I no longer collect them.

Recently I’ve been thinking about Bill, one of my best friends when I was a high school freshman. I loved hanging out with Bill because we’d listen to our favorite music while talking about girls. He was good-looking, charming and confident, and he dressed like a college fraternity brother. He had a knowing air about him and often gave me fatherly advice about romance. At parties, he was the man.

After freshman year, my family moved to Germany and I lost track of Bill. But now, more than 50 years later, one of my old friends from that era mentioned in an email that Bill was killed in a drunken driving accident during his freshman year at college. He was driving too fast and ran off the road. It was terrible to hear, but Bill was a super-confident party animal kind of guy. As bad as I felt, the story didn’t surprise me.

Part of the problem is that most teens are not inclined to think about the future. The here-and-now is where the excitement is. The threat of death as a consequence doesn’t bother them because they don’t think much about cause and effect and consequences. They don’t appreciate that life is fragile and precious or that they, too, could die. The only people talking about exciting times are the survivors. The dead have no way to advise them.

This is why the “wise aunt” and the “wise uncle” in my books talk about a long life having a finite, undetermined number of years. In both books, the young person has to cope with the death of a loved one.

Talking to young kids about sex is so awkward and daunting that even today many parents don’t do a very good job of it. The thing is, kids need a “heads up” about other difficult issues, too. That’s why I wrote the books Conversations with the Wise Aunt and Conversations with the Wise Uncle.

Now there are discussion guides for these books so parents, instructors, coaches, counselors and other mentors can carry on intelligent conversations about the most important topics. You can download them FREE.

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One Response to The Teen Years – A Scary Time of Life

  1. Joan Gordon says:

    Thank you for your powerful advice and observations. Talking straight with teens about alcohol, drugs, sex, and safe driving is an essential duty of every parent. Along side of those talks must be loving sessions about what it means to be loving, loyal, faithful, sensible, honest, and generous, in other words, what it means to live life based on a set of core values. Keep up the good work, Dennis.

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