Today’s column is an atypical one.

When I started writing this column in 2005, all my questions were from young people. As years passed, more and more adults connected with me. Most of those adult questions are about how to parent teens or children – often the questioners are grandparents. The majority of those emails from adults never make it into the column. I seek permission for each published question, and most adult parenting questions begin with the words, “Please don’t put this in the paper….”

Periodically, I receive an email from an adult with a story, not a question. Over the last several months, I’ve collected those stories with a common theme: a young person caused something positive to happen.

It’s refreshing to receive these emails. I grow weary of adults saying “these kids today” – although I’m certain the same comments were made by adults throughout time.

I know the truth about today’s young people because I’m honored to spend time with them.

Like adults, they are each unique.

As a generation, though, I witness some wonderful character traits. Teens are strong and resilient. They are empathetic and kind. I’ve seen them defend other teens from bullies and stand for what they believe in. The teens I know love their families, live their faith and support their country. Teens aren’t perfect, but neither are adults. I believe in young people. The kids are all right.

I hope these stories give as much joy to others as they brought to me.

1. I will vote next week for the first time. That may not seem like a big deal, but I’m in my 50s. I was in an abusive marriage and my ex-husband made me feel too stupid to vote. I didn’t believe I was worthy. When I finally found safety away from him, I returned to school and got my GED. I found my own place. I have a teenage granddaughter who drives and lives close. When she realized I’d never voted she took me to get registered. Next week, she’ll take me to vote. She may not be old enough to vote, but to me she is an outstanding citizen. Please share this if you can. My granddaughter believes in me and gives me hope.

2. My son is the reason I’m clean and sober. I struggled with addiction most of his life. I always provided for my family and I never physically hurt him or anyone else, but I also know I was emotionally absent and distant. When he turned 21, he came to me and told me it was legal for him to drink now, but he decided he’d never touch a drop. I asked him why. He told me he loved me. He said he didn’t want to live his life the way I lived mine. No judgement. Just kind words. He told me he’d go to AA or NA with me. I pretty much gave up on myself. It wasn’t like I magically turned my life around. It was about two years before I finally went. He never gave up. Never judged me. I don’t know how I deserve a son like this one, but it’s been 10 years since he said that to me and I give him all the credit for sticking by me. You answer questions in your column. I read it every week. Could you put this in it so I can brag about my boy? I want it to be anonymous to protect him, but I want him to see it in the newspaper. Thank you.

3. My teen daughters are the reason I went back to college. They constantly support me. They tell me I can make it. They do homework with me. My teens are great.

4. I wonder would you put my words in your column? A few years back I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I can’t describe how scared I was. My grandson was only 16. He told me he’d see me through this. He started going to chemo with me right away. Luckily, most of my chemo treatments were in the summer, but he followed through once school started. He got permission to come with me for chemo and missed school to do it. He’d do his homework right there with me. When I had surgery after the chemo he was so good. He sat with me at night when I couldn’t sleep. He got me my medicine and made me tea. He’d be embarrassed if I used his name, but please print this so I can show him the column. I know what he’ll say. He’ll say “it’s no big deal and he just loves me.” I love him so much. Thanks for giving me a place to say it out loud.

5. My teen daughters were so supportive when I started dating. I separated from their dad and was alone for a long time. They encouraged me and helped me fill out a dating profile. Then they helped me look at the people who responded. When I started going out they were like my cheerleaders. They really get this relationship thing. They both have great relationships and I do now too. You write about relationships in your column. Can you please share that this mother is happy because her girls made her feel like it was OK to try again?

Have a question? Send it to Dr. Mary Jo Podgurski’s email podmj@healthyteens.com

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