From a Teen’s Perspective: Receiving wisdom

by Dylan Lanier on July 3, 2023

The world has changed a lot since our parents and grandparents were growing up, but does that mean we should disregard their advice?

Many teenagers are likely to say that members of the older generation “just don’t get it,” while the subjects of their dismissal often argue that experience breeds superior wisdom. In my opinion, the key to understanding and applying their guidance is the way in which you receive it.

First, I’ll take a moment to appreciate the common teenage perspective. Today’s teenage experience is undeniably unique. Technological innovations like iPhones and social media have drastically altered society and influenced our adolescence.

In many ways, these revolutionary advancements have improved our experience: former generations would be green with envy if they knew we can play music at the tap of a digital button. However, these technologies can also make life more complicated.

To a parent, “get off your phone” may seem like a helpful directive, but to a teenager, it could mean missing out on a major social event. “Go to bed” sounded a lot easier before teens had hours of extracurriculars and homework to complete.

It’s healthy to remain wary of advice from the adults in our life. We have a deeper understanding of our experience and as such should recognize when guidance from the past doesn’t fit in today’s world.

That being said, there are certain universal truths that can be adapted to any context. Our parents and grandparents have discovered these truths and developed their perspectives far longer than we have. Even though the world is changing, they have wisdom that transcends time — observations that underpin the current of history.

It’s up to us to apply their sagacity to modern situations. We’ve all heard the Golden Rule time and time again: treat others how you want to be treated. Even if the people who taught us that expression learned it themselves before the advent of the Internet, it still stands to reason that you shouldn’t bully someone online because you wouldn’t want that done to you.

Receiving wisdom is about opening your ears and your mind to adult voices. Instead of assuming their advice is outdated, set an intention to consider how you can apply it to your unique experience.

Most importantly, conversations are a two-way street. It’s important to ask questions to clarify and specify the guidance you’ve been given. Everyone has a distinct perspective, and exposing yourself to as many as you can will strengthen your own beliefs.

So the next time you talk to a parent, grandparent, teacher, or any other adult in your life, listen with engagement and gratitude.

P.S. A huge thank you to all the adults in my life who have been constant sources of wisdom!

P.P.S. Special thanks to Sue Brodbeck for requesting this topic! You can email me with requests at

Dylan Lanier is a rising senior at Menlo-Atherton High School

Photo is for illustration purposes.

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