Popping up online recently has been a letter written for teens way back in 1959. Judge Philip B. Gilliam of Denver, Colorado, was a juvenile court judge who saw his share of troubled youth – some of whom likely felt justified in their behaviors. So, he decided to address some of the common complaints by having a letter printed in a newspaper at the time. It has since been rediscovered and used all around the world: in New Zealand schools, on Canadian radio stations, and even more widespread on online social networks.
Controversial to some, and perhaps dated in areas, the following offers some good, basic advice. No matter what date it originated, and applicable to people of all ages, it’s also quite appropriate for our expat children who sometimes have different expectations about their formative years abroad.
The letter is as follows:
Open Letter to Teen-ager
Always we hear the plaintive cry of the teen-ager. What can we do? Where can we go? The answer is GO HOME!
Hang the storm windows, paint the woodwork. Rake the leaves, mow the lawn, shovel the walk. Wash the car, learn to cook, scrub some floors. Repair the sink, build a boat, get a job. Help the minister, priest, or rabbi, the Red Cross, the Salvation Army. Visit the sick, assist the poor, study your lessons. And then when you are through – and not too tired – read a book.
Your parents do not owe you entertainment. Your city or village does not owe you recreational facilities.
The world does not owe you a living…you owe the world something. You owe it your time and your energy and your talents so that no one will be at war or in poverty or sick or lonely again.
Grow up; quit being a crybaby. Get out of your dream world and develop a backbone, not a wishbone, and start acting like a man or a lady.
You’re supposed to be mature enough to accept some of the responsibility your parents have carried for years.They have nursed, protected, helped, appealed, begged, excused, tolerated and denied themselves needed comforts so that you could have every benefit. This they have done gladly, for you are their dearest treasure.
But now, you have no right to expect them to bow to every whim and fancy just because selfish ego instead of common sense dominates your personality, thinking and request.
In Heaven’s name, grow up and go home!
Photo by Major Clanger of flickr.