The invention of youth


In most cultures there is a clear distinction between childhood and adulthood which involves some sort of even or ceremony to celebrate that specific age. “In Britain there are children and adults but apart from cultures, it is not clear at what age one becomes the other […] the word teenage was not coined until 1921 and teenager only came into regular use in Britain after 1945. […] A common held view is that the teenager was an invention of the 1950s and of rock ‘n roll music in particular. However, while this kind of music had a major impact on teenagers, it is clear that youth culture existed before the rock ‘n roll era.”

– Adapted from: Mass Media, Popular Culture and Social Change in Britain since 1945.


I believe that the word ‘teenager’ is overused. It’s used to describe the youngsters between 13 and 19 years old but it’s also used to describe stupid characters. For example ‘forgive his/her … (attitude) … he/she is a teenager.’

No. This is wrong. There shouldn’t be any excuse for anything they do. I still have a couple of months for this ‘teen’ thing but I never use it as an excuse. I think if we have the right to be treated as young adults, we also have the responsibility of controlling our attitude and whatever.


Does anyone think something else?



7 thoughts on “The invention of youth

  1. I am living this conundrum at the moment.

    I have a sister Pheonix who is 14 years younger than me at age 14, and since our mother is absent, in terms of guidence, advice, boundries…i’m mum.

    She is a very funny, bright and crative young thing. Even though she is only 14, she seems alot older because of the experiences she’s had already.

    I am very proud of her and couldn’t love her more if i tried.

    But at the moment, thing’s can get a bit tricky.

    Less than a year ago, she was a little girl, she loved scooby-doo, she’d never had a romantic relationship, she did very well at school, she had a teddy bear, Mr. Snuggles, that she took to be every night.

    What a difference a year makes!

    Now, she is out more than she’s at home, there’s always a gaggle of girls with her, and she has come out as bi-sexual. She’s in her second long term relationship with another girl now. Make-up, music, self-esteem, GCSE’s, STIs,where and who she’s with are all things that periodically i worry for her now. At least pregnancy isn’t a problem!

    She’s not a kid. But she’s not an adult.

    She’s old enough to know her own mind, to want to express and experiment with her individuality and to have an idea of what she might want.

    But she doesn’t yet have the capacity to think past the immidiate short term. She is not yet able to fully comprehend consequences, the long term, and the effects the decisions she makes have on other people and her future. She is not yet able to understand that what you want is not always the same as what you need.

    She is developed enough to understand her desires, but not yet developed enough to evaluate situations effectively, or to handle the responsibility that comes with acting those desires out.

    It’s a very difficult transition, a shadowy place between childhood and adulthood. I am torn between my delight in seeing her become herself, my dismay that it’s all happened so quickly, and my fear about not being able to protect her so completely anymore.

    1. Wow. This is touching. I would first like to thank you for taking your time and reading and commenting on my post.

      I can imagine how hard it is to be a mother, if you’re just her sister, especially when the biological mother is absent. This as you said, surely had an impact on her. I may not be too old myself, but my generation, which is not ending their ‘teenage’ period had a calmer childhood than your sister’s generation. (thank God my sister is only 2 years old, but she will go through tougher times than myself and your sister together).

      I believe you could do something about it. You said she is still 14. Legally speaking she is under age, therefore, you as her older sister have rights on her. You can tell her not to go out. You can tell her not to do things. It is not okay for a 14 years old girl to be bi-sexual. She is still a child. When I was 14 I was still playing with Barbie dolls (and I still do it sometimes). Maybe if you talked to her, not as her older sister/’mother’, but as a close friend.

      I can tell you from my experience that this will help. Mum raised me this way. She’s firstly my bestest friend and just then my mother. So we can talk about everything!

      Talk to her.. about her friends, about studies. Tell her how important having a career is, not this whole ‘going out and messing around’.

      I hope this helped and wish you all the best. Once again, thank you for this beautiful comment!

  2. Thakyou for your support and perspective. It all helps! πŸ™‚

    Her sexuality is not a problem for me, it is the seriousness of her realtionships that does worry me, i’m not ure she’s ready for it.

    I don’t feel i can tell her what to do as far as her personal life is concerned, as long as she is safe, i know where/who she is with and she is attending school, at this age i cannot stop her (in less than 2 years she will leaglly be able to have her own children, if she chooses), and i don’t think i would, even if i could.

    Certain things we don’t allow, for instance, she is not permitted upstairs alone with her girlfriend or any guys, she has to be home by a certain time and in bed by another. All of which she is very repectful of, i think because we have given her the respect and trust to have some freedom.

    Obviously we cannot police her when she is out of the house. Ultimately, i’d rather i had top make a few compromises so she feels happy and comfortable bringing her friends here, rather than wondering the streets or at other houses where they might not have someone keeping an eye on them.

    If i try to run her life, i will drive her away, and that could potentially put her in danger.

    Its not my job to make her decisons for her. It is my job to ensure a stable, loving, nurturing environment, where she is able to be herself, to be honest with me without fear. That is how i keep her safe πŸ™‚

    It[‘s so nice to hear that you have such a great relationship with your mum πŸ™‚

    1. Well, you’re truly an amazing person. And I also like the way you’re taking care of her.

      But as you said, there are two years left! You can still talk to her. Not tell her what to do, but advise her. It’s her choice whether she listens or not, but you can try. Her personal life is concerned, but she is too young to have ‘a personal life’. She’s not mature enough. That’s why I say, you should talk to her.

      Well, I guess I’m more conservative when it comes to sexuality (:p) and yes, the seriousness is something to worry about. And once again I’m telling you to talk to her about it.. it would really help.

      Thank you for all this again!

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