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The Difference Between Contemplating One’s Belly Button And Being A Responsible Adult

Wise words of advice from a Youth Judge, retold by Northland College (NZ) principal John Tapene.

Always we hear the cry from teenagers, “What can we do, where can we go?”  … My answer is, Go home, mow the lawn, wash the windows, learn to cook, build a raft, get a job, visit the sick, study your lessons, and after you’ve finished, read a book.

Your town does not owe you recreational facilities and your parents do not owe you fun. The world does not owe you a living, you owe the world something. You owe it your time, energy and talent so that no one will be at war, in poverty or sick and lonely again.

In other words, grow up, stop being a cry baby, get out of your dream world and develop a backbone, not a wishbone. Start behaving like a responsible person. You are important and you are needed. It’s too late to sit around and wait for somebody to do something someday. Someday is now and that somebody is you.

Too often people metaphorically concern themselves with the status of the lint collection in their navels and fail to see beyond themselves.  Life revolves around what people can do for them,  what others owe them merely for existing, an unhealthy preoccupation with their own concerns.   When there are too many people wanting to be coddled and looking out for their own selfish interests, society suffers and so sometimes we need a swift kick in the pants reminder that the good life comes from diligence, responsibility and altruism.



Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Jen November 28, 2012, 9:45 pm

    I find the sentiment in this article horrible.

    We as children were given parks and schools and libraries. We owe these things to the next generation to pass it on. The world does not owe kids a living, but they owe them a fighting change with safe environments to grow up in, educational opportunities so they can have the chance to earn a good living.

    Look at what teenagers can do when given the chance: A 14 year old won the international science fair this year. He spent all his free time coming up with a test to detect pancreatic cancer early. He wasn’t told to go home and mow the lawn, a Johns Hopkins professor opened up his lab for him and helped him get his initial start. This is what we should be doing for kids.

  • KitKat November 28, 2012, 9:51 pm

    This article and the subsequent comments made me realize that my little corner of the world had it good. There were activities for all ages (extracurricular activities through school, the township’s programs, etc). Granted there was a nominal fee, however, it was (and still is) possible to get to all the activities. They had fitness programs, educational programs, art programs, etc for children as young as 4 into adulthood.
    As a teenager, my group was treated with respect and our opinions were taken into consideration. If an opinion/idea was shot down, there was a good explanation of why from a responsible adult. I’ve never had someone glare at me/assume me to be an unruly teen but then again, I admit to having a very young and sweet-looking face.

  • DR November 29, 2012, 2:48 pm

    As a children’s court prosecutor I see the very worst of the worst mixed with those who are just misguided for a while. Whilst the parents of children have the responsibility to teach good values to children, which happens more effectively between 0 to 10 years. It is really after this age that the child in there striving to become an indepedant adult must take responsibility for how they spend there time and also how they deal with disappointment. If as a teenager you feel the society is tough and unjust toward you, consider that is the way it’s suppose to be, the way you meet that challenge is what determines you as an adult. Society owes you nothing, because you haven’t been around long enough to contribute enough. The passage above is simply pointing out that this world is unfair, etc but so what instead of complaining about the injustice. Start to figure how your going to become an adult and how your going to contribute. If you want your independence don’t wait for a hand out, contribute, the harder the adversity, the harder the challenge, the stronger and more satisfied you’ll be when you get through it. And consider this while you read this on your iPad or whatever. You have clothes on your back, you have food in your stomach and you live in the first world, maybe you should stop complaining and start contributing. Things could be much much worse.

  • GleanerGirl November 29, 2012, 6:31 pm

    EireCat – I salute you and agree with you. Abuse may not be rampant, but it is common enough that we cannot assume that HOME is the safest place for these kids.

    My own grampa pulled a gun on his daughter when she was 17, and told her to run away before he shot her. So, yeah. THIS.

    And LibraryDiva – you are also dead-on right. True, we should encourage teens to do productive stuff, like work, chores around the house, study, volunteer. But do adults do these things 24/7? Do adults get some free time to relax, socialize, enjoy some entertainment? Of course they do. So why not teens?

    Kicking quiet teens doing calculus homework out of a bookstore cafe because some fearful woman is uncomfortable because of their mere presence? The answer, then, is that SHE should leave. A savvy businessman does not kick out 6 customers (who are not causing any trouble) in favor of 1 customer, complaining at nothing but a mere perception. It’s simple math.

    And I don’t get the thing with community arguing against gaming clubs or skate parks, because GASP! teens might congregate there. Isn’t that kind of the point? To give them a SAFE place to congregate, socialize, and learn and grow as human beings, rather than just the academics they learn in school? People say they learn to socialize at school, but how can they when they are not allowed to talk to each other during class, and they have all of five minutes to get from one class to another? I have a friend whose son’s school has now decreed SILENT LUNCH. Yes, she used to come visit him at lunch, once a week, or so. She’d get to know his friends and they all enjoyed it. But now, there’s no point, because the school administrators punish anyone who speaks at lunchtime. They have to sit and eat their food in silence, then go back to their classes (with locked doors, by the way!), and sit in silence in their classrooms, while their teachers instruct them, and then they are put on the buses and sent back to their houses, while the school is locked down as soon as classes are over. After school activities are all held outside, and heaven help you if you need to use the restroom, because no teens are allowed back in the school after the last class is released. And if it’s 105 in the shade? Too bad. No air conditioning for you!

    Really, we treat them like criminals, simply because of their age, and then is it any wonder they act out? No, we do not OWE them entertainment, any more than we owe children OR adults entertainment. However, we do owe them the courtesy of not prejudging them to be criminals, and denying them the opportunities for socialization and entertainment that both small children and fully grown adults get, without question. Furthermore, lots of teens enjoy swings and merry-go-rounds, so kicking them out of the park playgrounds, because they’re too old for that, is ridiculous, too. Heck, I’ve seen adults on swings. But they don’t get kicked out, do they? Because they are not “criminals” looking for a crime.

  • penguintummy December 1, 2012, 3:46 am

    As a home visit nurse I frequently heard the same line from various groups of people, mostly all over 40 at least. It was ‘I’m owed [item] because I’m a veteran/pensioner/disabled/Indigenous/whatever’. Nobody owes you anything no matter what you have done or what card you have. Services are provided for certain groups, but you are not owed anything by the world.

  • Enna December 1, 2012, 9:30 am

    I don’t think it was clear in the orginal post that the Judge was cirtising those troublesome youths and teenagers who won’t to what you said Admin.

  • Enna December 1, 2012, 9:39 am

    Also teenagers only doing housework and chores is all stick in today’s soceity. Some teenagers like my colleauge’s teenager behave better if they are rewarded for good behaviour. By all means when children and teenagers misbehave they beed to be punished/reprimarnded but they also need to be recognised for good behaviour otherwise they will only get attention when they misbehave.

    The Salam witch hunts were started by a group of teenage girls who had limtied oppoturinties in life and would have limited power later on in life as adults, they saw an opportunity were they could have some power by declaring people with witches and they ran with it. These days teenagers, both boys and girls have access to so much more in regards to education and work opptunites. E.g. in Western world women (but not all) have a choice to stay at home or go back to work and some men have the choice to stay at home too look after the children because their wives/partners can earn the same and if not more then the man.

  • veya December 2, 2012, 4:01 pm

    I don’t agree with that original statement at all. It’s about give and take. The world owes everyone and everyone owes to the world.
    And yes, your parents do owe you fun. They decided to have kids and now it’s up to them those children are happy and healthy and fun is part of that.

    First we parents provide fun and later we teach our children to have it. This makes it sound like we just have them to do chores and do homework. Tomorrow, I’m going to enjoy having and making fun with and for my daughter.

  • Asharah December 2, 2012, 10:24 pm

    My friends daughter finished 8th grade and started high school this year. Most of the girls bought strapless sundresses for the graduation dance, and then it was announced TWO DAYS BEFORE THE DANCE that strapless and spaghetti strap dresses were not allowed. And no, they couldn’t just wear a shrug or jacket over the dress, because they were gonna check at the door. So just about every girl in the graduating class had to go look for another dress on TWO DAYS notice. Okay, it’s a parochial school, but if they had issues with certain types of clothes for the dance, they should have said something a little sooner.
    And her new high school has now banned all dances for the rest of the year because some upperclassmen smuggled alcohol into homecoming. So the entire school gets punished for the actions of a few.

  • Anonymous December 3, 2012, 1:44 pm

    @Asharah–There’s a way around your friend’s daughter’s school’s blanket punishment of “no school dances all year, because a few upperclassmen smuggled alcohol into homecoming.” When I was in high school, there was a prom each year, BUT every year before my year, the prom was a non-school-sanctioned event, because it was held at a venue (different venue each year, I think) that was a bit of a distance away from the school, and the venues all had alcohol–which was perfectly legal for many of the prom attendees, who would have reached the drinking age by the day of the prom (I’m Canadian), but it still would have violated the school’s rules. So, the students did all the planning for prom themselves, and simply didn’t “officially” mention prom at school. So, there was a prom committee, but it wasn’t called that; it was called the “13 Committee” (because, back then, there was a Grade 13, which was later renamed OAC, for Ontario Academic Credit). The student government pretended not to know about the 13 Committee planning prom, although several people were members of both, and prom tickets weren’t sold publicly–people wanting to attend prom approached 13 Committee members privately for tickets. All of this took place long before Facebook or similar social networking sites, and I’m pretty sure there were logistical problems, but the important thing was, there was still a prom. Now, the year I graduated, it changed back to being a school-sanctioned, alcohol-free affair (but still held at an outside venue). Despite being very active in the school community, I decided at the last minute not to go, but that wasn’t because of the presence or absence of alcohol, it was because a bunch of my main group of friends were fighting over something stupid, and I didn’t want to deal with them, so instead, I spent a quiet evening with just two other friends from student government. Anyway, to make this less about me, and more helpful, it IS possible to have “unofficial” school events. All you need is an outside venue, and a collective agreement to make it happen, but keep it quiet. It’s not breaking any rules, because the people involved aren’t planning a school event; they’re just people who met AT school, who are planning an event.

  • NZMC December 3, 2012, 10:55 pm

    Admin’s posts on regifting and on responsible adulthood are right-on, and we do live in a hyper-entitlement society, as witnessed by the dissenters all seeming to inhabit the world of “I have a right to the gift (or the recreational facility) that I expect.”