Today there are so many distractions for teenagers. We are overwhelmed so easily and we assume so much hatred and hurt, but was it always like this for us? Were teens always seen as less important? Are these years truly just for us to goof off and then quickly grow up? I don’t think so and other generations don’t think so either.
Only a few years after WW2 ended and before John F. Kennedy became president, the 1950s were a period of rebirth and renewal for America. After the men came back from the war, families started to grow and new inventions came to life like credit cards, color TV and the discovery of DNA. I asked my two grandmothers a series of questions about their generation as teens. Both were teenagers in the 50s and thought life was perfect. They said life was peaceful and safe: you could walk alone at night and not feel scared. My one grandmother said, “Life was better back then because we found and made the fun instead of waiting for someone to give us “fun” or waiting for it to come on its own.”
They both agreed that teens in their generation were “seen but not heard”. Occasionally they felt powerful but a lot of the times powerless. Teens were starting to be viewed more as adults and had to make more important decisions earlier than what we have to make later in life. Even knowing that they had to make decisions sooner, they still did not have any worries. My one grandmother said women back then had their lives already planned for them: to get married and have kids. Only a handful or less went to college and would have a high paying job (but a man would get paid more for the same job). Women were only secretaries or sometimes had low-paying, part-time jobs. Their mothers were always at home making sure everything was done for their household, and that is what both of my grandmothers did when they grew up.
I asked my parents about their teen years in the late 70s and early 80s. College was becoming more popular and more teens wanted to go. More opportunities meant more freedom. They were strong and knew what they wanted and would not stop going after it. Teens were seen more as equals then different from adults. Only one thing was holding them back: money. If you wanted something you had to work for it, it was not given to them. Teens were on their own.
My grandmothers and parents also had a lot of say about this generation and teenagers today. They all agreed that teens today could change the world to be better, but we are falling behind. My grandmother said, “We need to show respect and stand up for our responsibilities”.
Both of these generations think that a person from ours can be someone. I want peace and equality and feminism and simply for everyone to be happy. I want to make this world a better place, but it is hard when people beat up on other people and think less of others. If our parents and grandparents want to see a change or want us to step up, then we should step up for who we are and who we want to be.