I saw a meme on Facebook not long ago mocking teenagers for complaining about how hard their life is when they do not realize how hard adults work and how much adults have to put up with. This is not an uncommon sentiment, and honestly, I’ve thought something similar on occasion.

But a fairly insightful teenager recently made a very good point. It is easy for adults to look at what what a teenager has to do and mock them because adults have so much more responsibility. But the difficulty of a situation is not simply how heavy the burden is, but how heavy the burden is based on the strength that you have.

Would it make any sense for an adult to mock a toddler for struggling to carry 50 lb weight? Of course not. We know the adult is stronger and can carry more weight. That 50 lb burden weighs the same for both, but it may be a fourth of the body weight of the adult and double the body weight of the toddler. The challenge is relative to the strength.

Therefore, the insightful teen pointed out, while teenagers may struggle with the responsibilities of school and peer drama and chores, which may be easier than adult responsibilities, have you considered that they do not have all the life experiences, wisdom and skills that the adults possess which make those tasks seem easy? It is common knowledge that teen brains and bodies are developing rapidly at that age, while their emotions are running rampant and difficult to control. There are so many fundamental questions about life that they are still trying to figure out, and this means that they do not have a stable foundation to make sense of the world. Furthermore, did the previous generation have to worry about 24/7 cyber bullying or the threat of school shootings and terrorists?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am by no means trying to make excuses for teenagers to justify not doing things. Doing hard things is crucial to their development and ability to gain those skills to rise to the challenges of adulthood. But, as I have said before, we can seek to understand people, without excusing bad behavior. Looking only at their burden and talking about how it is easy it is compared to yours only serves to puff yourself up and tear them down. But recognizing the true challenge of being a teenager will improve the ability to connect, empathize and encourage them to do those hard things. 

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