Michigan Teen Starts CSA

July 31, 2010

I read a great article yesterday about a 14 year old girl in Michigan who started a small CSA.

I love it when teens have meaningful work. Something important that they are doing with their time. I love this for so many reasons. It shreds the idea of the surly teen who has nothing better to do than cruise the mall in their spare time. I think that meaningful work also builds self esteem.

My thinking on adolescence has been heavily influenced by my sister Betsy, my tutor Mardi at L’Abri and Donald Miller‘s “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years”. My sister has told me many times how much they’ve loved parenting through the teen years. Not being glib- there are rough spots, to be sure. But, both she and her husband Steve have loved raising their boys through adolescence. I mention this as a part of the equation because it runs counter to the common idea by adults that parenting through the teen years is to be dreaded. My tutor Mardi from L’Abri lectured about how in the past, teens had meaningful work from an early age. They were important contributors to society who had a lot of responsibility.

Then, in Donald Miller’s book he told a story about a young girl whose parents were very concerned about her. They had found drugs in her room, and she had a boyfriend who was completely disrespectful. The dad was so concerned about the trajectory of her life that he put a second mortgage on their house so that they could build an orphanage in Mexico. Wow. He wanted to give their daughter something important to do- a better story to tell. As they prepared to leave for Mexico, the daughter started doing fund raising for the orphanage- engaged in the cause that her family was now living for. She broke up with the boyfriend. Her dad said that “no girl who plays the role of a hero dates a guy who uses her. She knows who she is. She just forgot for a little while.” I hope to instill this same value into my children. We have one life to live on this planet- make it count. I’m not telling you to take out a second mortgage on your house, but I do think that it’s important that we help our kids find their way in leading a meaningful life.

So, I loved this article that my friend Linnaea sent to me from the New York Times Magazine. Click here if you’re interested in reading about what this young girl has done. I love the way that the journalist captured the contrast between her 14 year-old voice, and her very grown-up accomplishments. It’s also clear that this young woman has been mentored by her parents. She’s providing local food and solving an environmental problem at the same time.

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