Best years of your life? Or worst years of your life? When expressing their opinion on
their adolescence, most people, young or old, have an extreme view of it. When
interviewing people from different generations on their experiences of adolescence, we
find as many similarities as differences.
One of the biggest differences in the last generation and today’s, is that it takes much
longer to make the transition to adulthood. The generation after World War 11 considered
themselves adults, ready to marry and enter the work force, in their teens, right after high
school, and many left school to do so. Adolescences now, for the most part, view their
becoming adult involves being financially independent, therefore extending the years of
their adolescence. Continued education is a big part of today’s teenagers’ expectations,
which was not stressed as much for teenagers in the past.
While interviewing a twenty year old male, and a fifty-seven year old female, when
answering the question, ‘did most of the adolescents in your area attend high school’, the
older said ‘yes’, but had several friends who did not graduate, while the younger said all
of his friends graduated. Asked, ‘what was the most nagging problem as a teenager’, the
older person answered ‘clothes, and fitting in’, while the younger felt intense pressure to
be preparing for college and obtaining a lucrative career.
Asked ‘what was your clothes like’, both answered clothing was one of the
major concerns and stress factors in their lives. Keeping up with their peers fashion was
an important and sometimes unhappy part of both their experiences as adolescence.
The older person expressed the opinion that looking forward to marriage was a big
part of her adolescence, where the younger male said marriage was something for his late
thirties. When comparing dating as a teenager, both had similar curfews, although an
earlier age for dating was expressed by the younger person. He also stated that most of
his friends had no curfew, while the older said all of her friends had curfews. What they
did on dates differed in the fact that the younger person said ‘dating’ was not done as an
actual practice. While he did have girlfriends, they just ‘hung out’ together. The older
person said ‘dates’ involved going to movies mostly, and going to friends houses
together. She also was allowed to date on Friday and Saturdays only, which the younger
person was not restricted to.
The question, ‘how did you get along with your parents’ had major differences. The
older person thought her relationship with her parents, was good. While having the usual
disagreements teenagers have with parents , she felt close to her parents, and felt little
pressure from them. The male said he felt pressured by his parents to perform
well in school, and didn’t think his parents took into account his personal feelings and
Along with that question, when asked about working while attending school, both had
jobs while in high school, but with differences. The younger had not wanted a job, while
the older did. Also different, was that the older contributed to the family income, while
the younger did not.
When asked what advise and suggestions would they give to today’s adolescence,
both gave the answer of enjoying it more, as it passes so quickly. The simple things, of
‘just hanging out with friends’, was the answer both gave for their favorite memories.
After comparing the answers from both, it’s interesting that when asked, ‘would you
like to relive your adolescence, the twenty year old answered that he felt to still be in his
adolescence, while the fifty-seven year old answered with a ‘no’. She went on to explain,
even though she did enjoy her teenage years, she loved her adult life of wife and mother
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