“Free to Be You and Me”
- Free To Be You And Me Target Ad
One of the biggest misconceptions about mentoring teens is limiting our content choices to that which is immediately directed toward teens; however, that is a huge mistake. There are all kinds of media (songs, picture books, websites, games, novels….) that aren’t necessarily directed toward teens, but they can still make a huge difference in a teen’s life and send a message that they might not have received yet in their lives.
I am in LOVE with the Target advertisement that uses a verse from the song, “Free to Be You and Me”. It’s the title song from an album by Marlo Thomas (and friends) that was originally released in 1972, the year I was born, and it was an absolute staple as to what my brother and I listened to all through our childhood. Albums moved to cassettes, and cassettes moved to CDs, and I finally managed to procure “Free to Be You and Me” on CD. Listening to it as an adult made many ideals of mine perfectly clear as to where I got them. The small snippet in the Target ad is a tiny bit of what I learned from that album, but while it is small, it is potent.
The concept is SO important for everyone, but it is especially important for teenagers. Being a teenager is one of the toughest times in our lives. The pressures teens endure, not knowing where to look for answers or guidance…. It feels impossible to be “Free to Be You and Me”. As teen mentors, our first priority has got to be to help teens learn how to be free to be themselves. That’s a tall order. Think of the adults in your life who don’t know how to be themselves….
So, go back to the song, or if that’s too much, just watch the commercial again. Surely I don’t have to explain the significance of three triplets going into their school building dressed exactly alike and then throughout the day they figure out their own identities and leave school completely independent from one another. The ultimate concept is for every person (our teens) to identify their individual personalities, their individual goals, their ability to be free to be whomever they need to be. Adolescence is the time period where most kiddos are figuring out those answers. One of the best gifts we can give them is the freedom to explore and determine who they want to be and where they want to go—without judgment, without prejudice, simply accepting the choices they make for themselves. I suppose Marlo Thomas and I share some of the same ideals. That is probably one of the reasons why this will not be one of the only articles I write about using, “Free to Be You and Me” while mentoring teenagers. The depths of the lessons that can be learned are endless, and as I wrote before, they are not limited to children.