For adults wanting to grow closer to the teenagers they spend time with, Glenn Manton’s advice is clear – get to know their music.
“The disconnect between young people and the adults around them is often through popular culture, it’s often through language and it’s often through music, which is the barometer of both,” he said.
“Appreciate what they’re listening to, in terms of their music, appreciate how they listen to it, understand as much as you can about that music.
“Because I have no doubt that it is the common denominator and the key to unlocking better relationships with young people.”
The former Carlton and Essendon footballer, media personality, author and public speaker met with Catholic College Wodonga students on Wednesday.
“I’m not there to talk about my AFL career, that’s of little real value to these young people,” Manton said.
“What they need to hear is the times when I’ve stood on cracks and fallen down rabbit holes and managed to find my way back out.”
One turning point came at 17 when he badly injured his arm and a doctor – a British stranger who knew nothing of him or football – recognised a young man at risk.
“He gave me the double barrelled verbal shotgun,” Manton said.
“Made it clear that I was at a huge crossroads in life and I had to make some decisions to help navigate my way forward.
“I had never been spoken to like that before in my life.
“It was direct, it was aggressive, it was fervent, it made me feel uncomfortable, it was brutally honest.
“It probably had even more punch knowing that this person could identify with me and my behaviours so readily and really drive me to be a much, much better person, so it was a very stark, stark moment.”
Manton’s shared his story for 25 years and in some ways teenagers haven’t changed.
“The biggest concern for any young person still stands true, and that is finding oneself,” he said.
“Discovering who they are, how they fit into the world, what the future looks like for them, both individually and collectively.”
Manton’s relationship with the Catholic College Wodonga students did not have to end on Wednesday.
“My Instagram platform acts as a mentoring service for young people,” he said.
“So they get to walk out of the room with many options moving forward to continue the conversation, should they choose.”
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