Did Someone Say ‘Slacker’? Why Today’s Teens May Be Working Too Much

Given the stereotypes of lazy, indulgent parents and their spoiled slacker offspring, it would be easy for an outsider to assume that most American families spend abnormal amounts of time slumped on couches or sprawled across their giant beds.

The truth, though, is that Americans are a pretty busy bunch – so much so that some experts believe the nation’s collective workaholism may be adding unhealthy amounts of stress to the overscheduled lives of today’s teens.

Teenager Working

How Much is Too Much?
With their hazy recollections of chore-laden weekends and 10-mile trudges to school, many modern parents would be loath to admit that their children are working harder than mom and dad did a generation ago. But statistics show that a number of high school and college students may be pushing themselves beyond the breaking point with a dawn-to-dusk slate of jobs, classes, and extracurricular activities.

“As the baby boomlet hits their teens and 20s, many parents are dismayed to see they’ve created little adults just like themselves: workaholics,” Sue Shellenbarger wrote in a Jan. 16, 2004 column in The Wall Street Journal. “[The children] toil to exhaustion, they’re stressed and distracted, and they seldom make time to spend with loved ones. The shock of seeing themselves in their kids brings many of these parents to a dead halt.”

With the pressure to succeed starting as early as preschool for some children, it should come as little surprise that some teens are working themselves into a stupor in order to ensure that their scholastic resume is suitably awe-inspiring for college admissions officers and corporate recruiters.

The stresses associated with this mindset were expressed by Katie Haddow, a then-16-year-old high school junior who was interviewed by Liza Mundy for an article in the Oct. 23, 2005 edition of The Washington Post. “My problem right now is that I’m feeling like I’m not going to be able to get into a good school; I’m going to end up working at McDonald’s,” Haddow told Mundy. “I break down every day. It’s horrible, all of this pressure from school. I always feel stupid all the time, because of these [advanced] classes: I’m not taking enough, or I’m not doing well enough.”

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Barbara Walters Discusses Her Daughter’s Teen Drug Abuse and Residential Treatment

Among the memories shared by television legend Barbara Walters in her best-selling autobiography, Auditions, is an account of her daughter’s troubled adolescence. Walters entitled the section about her daughter, Jackie Walters Danforth, “The Hardest Chapter to Write.”

Walters told reporters although her memories were very painful, she and her daughter believed that publishing their story could help other families who are going through the ordeal of teenage drug abuse. But in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Walters told a reporter that she could never re-read “The Hardest Chapter” because its “details of the disintegration” were too difficult for her.

Continue reading about Barbara Walters and her daughter’s drug abuse
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