by Nona N. Allen
Special to The New Tri-State Defender
I have always prided myself on my ability to relate to young people. I am the one they come to when they can't talk to their parents. I understand young people. I am the rare adult who actually gets it!
That was my self-proclaimed status.
When I sat down with teen author Angel Ray and five other teens, I found out that I couldn't have been further from the truth.
I first had to understand where the author was coming from with her book, "Some Parents Just Don't Understand." The stories were somewhat typical, but some had surprising twists.
"These stories are 100 percent true except the names and places. I know the people who are the basis for each of these stories," said Ray.
Yes, but why these specific stories?
"Teens go through more than adults think we do. I had to let them know that there is a reason behind our decisions," said Ray, who envisions her book helping to open lines of communication between teens and parents. "Most parents don't know what goes on or ask about their teen's life. I talk to my parents, but even they don't always understand."
I met Ray one Tuesday evening at her church, The New Olivet Baptist Church. After talking one on one, we were joined by five other teens – four young men and one young lady – about her age. Four attended Memphis City Schools and one attended Shelby County Schools. Only one of the teens had read the book, but after I briefed them on the stories, they had plenty to talk about.
Ray's book features four stories about four real teens. Each story is followed by a series of discussion questions to evoke thought and conversation among teens. The first story – "But He Was My First" – deals with two teen girls fighting over a teen boy.
I asked if anyone had seen or even been in a similar situation. All had seen such a scenario and two had first-hand experience. Everyone agreed that fighting over a boy (or girl) is pointless.
"It's stupid," said one of the teens, summing up the situation. "The boy probably has three more girls."