I’m not sharing anything Earth shattering within this post. What I am doing here, is to simply share what I believe to be one of the most honest and prophetic statement to teens that anyone has shared in a long, long time.
I guess it’s fitting that it comes from a Judge who spent his entire career advocating for and working with teenagers. Judge Phillip B. Gilliam spent 33 years working as a Juvenile Court Judge in Denver Colorado. That same facility is named after Judge Gilliam today. The Judge wrote the semi-famous letter on December 6th, 1959. The appropriateness of this letter transcends the decades and ages. Those that question if history repeats itself, look no further.
Here is the original, unedited letter Judge Gilliam wrote:
Always we hear the plaintive cry of the teenager. 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 activities.
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!
Today’s entitled teenagers could certainly benefit from reading Judge Gilliam’s potent letter of reality and wisdom. If we are to survive and provide a better world for our teens, it begins with teaching them personal accountability.
Thank you Judge Gilliam and god bless!