There’s a science to raising a well-adjusted teen

Teens are often described as being sullen, moody, and lazy. Sometimes rebellious, they dislike their parents and school; they always follow, never lead; can’t make decisions on their own, and often have no direction.     

But talk to enough teens and you find out they are complex. Each has different skills and talents and personalities. And some have already accomplished more than many adults have in their lifetime.

Enter, Julie Sage.

I heard of then-13-year-old Julie in the spring through a story in the Union Leader about her placing in the National Science Foundation’s comic contest. She talked about having a science show on YouTube, wanting to be an astrophysicist and how important is to have females work in STEM fields. I had to check twice to make sure that I read her age correctly.

I decided to ask Julie if she wanted to be interviewed for a story for ParentingNH’s annual teen and tween issue (see the story here). Julie and I emailed quite a bit back and forth. Her emails were polite and well-written. Her exuberance for science was evident in our correspondence.

After receiving a laundry list of accomplishments and activities she is involved in, I jokingly replied to her that I did not know when she slept. Julie told me she sleeps but she doesn’t watch television or movies. In fact, recently in her spare time she has been grinding a mirror to build a telescope — I had never felt guilty about my reality TV habit until that moment.  

She is passionate about science and she doesn’t care who knows it, or what anyone thinks of her. Not all of Julie’s classmates share her maturity level or understand her single-mindedness, and that can make it tough for her at times. But she remains undeterred in her quest to be the next Neil deGrasse Tyson. 

I started to wonder what magic formula Julie’s parents used to raise such a self-assured, driven young adult.

Julie decided at age 6 that studying space was in her future. Her parents say even at that age they took her seriously; they encouraged her and did what they could to feed her never-ending need for knowledge.

In a world where teens are often underestimated in what they can learn or achieve, and where not enough females are being encouraged to study and work in STEM fields, Julie is a reminder that we need to treat people as individuals and we shouldn’t make assumptions. Most importantly, caring and involved parents can make all the difference in a child’s success.   

More Letters from Editor Melanie Hitchcock

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If there is something good that comes out of recent events, it’s that men and women are talking more about sexual assault.

Put a different spin on Halloween

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Finding comfort in a familiar friend

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of reading through dozens of essay contest submissions for our fourth annual contest, in which I asked kids and teens to answer the question: “What is your most prized possession?”
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