DARE TO ASK: She feels like a teenager in age only
By PHILLIP MILANO, The Times-Union
I am only 14 but feel much older. I connect more with my parents and members
of their generation. My classmates do not understand me. Do any other teens feel
as I do?
J., female, Jacksonville
I always enjoyed speaking with adults. But being mature for your age will
leave you lonely in high school. I can't wait for college! I am trapped in a
high school full of cliques and immature kids.
Deecie, 16, Chantilly, Va.
No, you aren't odd. There should be others like you who'd appreciate your
Julie, 26, Jacksonville
Don't "dumb" yourself down.
Luca, 22, Lauderdale Lakes
I still feel this way. I hate it. I find older people (and me) to almost be
uptight. I try to let go of worries and have fun and talk freely about matters
that don't matter.
Jessica, 17, Canada
Keep your head on straight and know that your peers will catch up with you.
You'll find that they often look up to you because you're so responsible (even
if they hate to admit it).
Jesse, 28, Huntington, W.Va.
I wish I would have taken advantage of being a kid - enjoying school more,
friends more, and letting go of all the deep thoughts. Don't try to grow up too
fast because you will never get that back.
Danielle, 21, Flint, Mich.
Be yourself. It's better to be disliked for who you are than liked for
something you're not.
Who better to blame for turning a happy-go-lucky kid into an insulated, aloof
teen than a mom or dad?
"Some parents raise their kids to be with them all the time. . . . [They]
include them in family discussions, spend lots of time with them but don't take
them out for games or sports with other kids," said Julius Licata, co-founder of
TeenCentral.net for KidsPeace, a 125-year-old nonprofit focused on youths'
"Parents may think they are doing their kids a favor, but they are missing
out on their childhood years, on the peer relationships they should have."
When that happens, kids end up feeling alone, thinking no one understands
"They are looking for other kids to relate to. . . . Suppose a teen has a
fight with her parents. She can feel isolated, but a friend might say, 'Well, I
have an earlier curfew than you!' Then she doesn't feel so depressed, as though
she's the only one going through it."
The problem is that heightened awareness of terrorism, sexual abuse,
abductions and more causes parents to shelter their children. There must be a
balance, Licata said. He recommended that parents steer their "mature" kids into
academic, creative or sports-related activities with peers with the same
interests - and to let them spread their wings some.
"If you stifle their growth, they lose a certain amount of their own
personhood," he said.
Phillip Milano, author of I Can't Believe You Asked That! (Perigee),
moderates cross-cultural dialogue at Y? The National Forum on People's
Differences. Visit www.yforum.com to submit questions and answers. Send general
column comments to phillip. firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also hear his
podcasts or watch his