“They don’t know how good they’ve got it!” When I hear this from an adult, it always makes me snort. Of course today’s kids don’t know how good they’ve got it – WE didn’t know how good we had it, compared to our parents!
My mom grew up during the Depression, so she told stories of putting cardboard in her shoes and not getting enough to eat. That didn’t stop me from begging for another pair of shoes or for a certain kind of cereal.
The reality is that we can’t use others’ tough times to make us appreciate our own luxuries. This is even more true for teens who live in the center of their own worlds. Can you really imagine a 15-year-old saying, “Wow, you’re right. I shouldn’t complain about slow internet when my parents didn’t even have computers at my age!”?
I’ve just returned from my annual mission trip to Northern BC, which I spent with dozens of high school and college students. When they saw the living conditions of some of the people we met, THEN they had a new appreciation for what they had back at home, both material and non (like parents who get inolved, or easy access to the mall). Even our living conditions on the trip – camping in tents and sharing small bathroom facilities – made them appreciate the comforts of home.
Want teens to appreciate what they have? Take them where other people don’t have as much. Or better yet, put them in a situation where THEY don’t have as much.
But don’t expect them to learn anything from your stories of what you – or anyone else – may have experienced.