The impact on the brain of the onset of adult sexual hormones and the resulting new sense of and desire for independence creates an opportunity for stimulating changes in values and behavior from the previous generation. This natural process of defining oneself as an “independent self” creates a natural tension between doing what one is told / led to do by parents/authority and deciding for oneself based on the individual's own knowledge base and experiences in life.
This onset of hormone driven mental shift to self determination which we awkwardly call adolescence is an opportunity to supplement knowledge and enrich experiences in a way that opens the person's mind to new possibilities for themselves and their futures, validating and stimulating efforts to achieve what are now perceived by the developing adult minds to be very attainable, more desirable and secure lifestyles.
This is particularly powerful when there is a group of peers who are also stimulated to value striving. That is why working with groups of adolescents may be more fruitful than one on one mentoring in which the kid's peers may not accept changes in attitudes and behavior and discourage progress.
Marketing and advertising firms understand this mind shift opportunity all too well, and successfully convince adolescents that adults “don't get it”, and in doing so are able to sell them all sorts of trendy foolishness. Surely those of us who love children can make prudent use of this influence opportunity to help young adults break away from repeating values and behaviors that minimize their opportunities to provide adequate resources and leadership for their children.
We must continue to work to restructure all the systems that impact the lives of children, but at the same time children need and deserve parents who focused on their futures as students and as a result are better equipped to access whatever opportunities exist, and the high leverage opportunity for doing that is mentoring the male and female adolescents who will become parents over the next decade. Opening developing adults' eyes to the value of education and other development opportunities is the best way to improve the lives of their children... organically... by fertilizing the soil in which they will grow.