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Adolescence, joy or war, autonomy or dependence.

Αυτή η ανάρτηση είναι επίσης διαθέσιμη στο: Greek

How many times have we been present in casual conversations with teenagers’ parents, how many times have we shared our teenagers’ delight, their worries, their doubts and fears?
We have heard all about the agreeable teenagers, the more festive and vigorous teenagers, the rebellious ones, that might seem a bit difficult to settle with, even the more troublesome of teenagers. Above all however, we have heard all about the notorious phase of growth and development that is adolescence.
What is in the end this ‘’adolescence’’ thing and is it really as terrible as it is made out to be?
For the teenagers to be in unison with their parents -as much as it is possible to be- the parents, or rather the adults in general, need to know what development goals the teenagers are supposed to peer on and fulfill in order to transcend into adulthood with a complete and well rounded personality.

The aforementioned goals are:

1. acknowledging the changes that take part on their (the teenagers’) body.

2. Forming a more matured relationship with someone of the opposite sex and accepting their gender’s part in today’s society.

3. Having a certain prospect for economical independence by deciding on their future profession and preparing for it.

4. becoming emotionally autonomous from their parents and other adults in general.

5. Forming bonds of mutuality with teenagers of both genders around their age.

6. Obtaining the necessary cognitive dexterities for his active contribution in social and political affairs.

7. Forming a concrete philosophy to live by.

8. Answering personal inquiries such as ‘’where do I come from’’, ‘’where do I go’’ securing their self-identity.

Parents should also be aware of the 2 main characteristics of adolescence, those are:

1. the people around the teenager’s age play a pivotal role in the teenager’s social life, doubting any form of authority also is a crucial for the teenager’s development.

2. Hormonal changes coincide with the teenager’s social life in adolescence.

How is everything above mentioned above observed in the teenagers’ daily life, how does it affect their relationship with their families, when is the teenagers’ attitude considered ordinary and lastly when should parents be worried about their children and seek for help?

First and foremost, let us address the hormonal aspect of the story, hormones make people emotional, thus teenagers are often seen over-sensitive, nervous, emotionally unstable and generally ill-tempered and grumpy. The above usually result in intense bickering and confrontations between the parents and their teenager’s. However, aren’t teenagers ultimately relieved from their inner confrontations through the fighting and bickering? Aren’t the confrontations between teenager and parent helping the family’s daily routine?

Not at all, because the teens’ desire for emotional independence and their need to question all forms of authority (parents representing one form of authority) combined with their biologically originated over-irritability, turns everyday life into battle, therefore we have started a war with our children. On the contrast, if we were to understand our teenagers’ development needs and stand by their side as partners, supporting them through their journey, instead of rivals, then we would truly live our teenagers’ joy for living, their achievements and accomplishments.

Parents need to understand the stress induced on our teenagers because of the changes their bodies go through in such a rapid fashion, as well as the stress teenagers go through wondering what their coevals’ view on them is and whether they are accepted or rejected by them. Mean spirited comments on their appearance definitely do not help however, letting them know that we are by their sides whenever they need our opinions on how to improve their looks significantly helps reduce their stress and anxiety, while acknowledging their need for emotional independence at the same time.

About the teenager’s relationships with the opposite gender, also an important matter for the teenager’s emotional development and their future independent life, parents shouldn’t adopt an overly judgmental stance on their children’s’ choices. If anything seems worrying then it is be best to refer to our worries by asking our teenagers’ opinion and how are they planning to solve any potential problems, while always emphasizing our availability to them and our desire for our children’s happiness and safety.

As parents, we support our children’s choices for their future careers, while simultaneously helping them perceive their abilities without blending our personal aspirations with their ambitions and abilities. Over-praising lines such as ‘’you are a genius and can do everything’’, might be far from the truth and only satisfy parents’ personal, unfulfilled, narcissistic endeavors.

Parents should always be aware that, while the teenager’s peers exercise a great deal of influence to our teenagers, their future personalities are decided by their families and their family’s values, with the teenager’s transcendence into adulthood and their eventual distance from their adolescent peers, the young adults henceforth will go on with their lives with their family’s principal philosophy as their personal philosophy to live by and with that, combined with the other development matters we examined above, they will form their idea of self identity namely, their personality. Therefore the parents’ contribution here is of great magnitude, meaning, what are the values inside the teen’s family? Not the values that exist for the sake of being there however, values actively implemented in the family’s daily life.

Parents, by being allies and partners to the teenager’s life, turn adolescence into yet another achievement for the teen; this way the family enjoys their teenager’s love for life, In contrast to antagonistic and confrontational parents whom transform the family into a battlefield -war -.

It is also vital for the parents to be able to observe and judge their kids’ attitude, as impartially as it is possible, neither underestimate nor overestimate their teens’ mental outlook, that being because it is them who the teens live with and that means that they will be the first whose notice will be brought upon their teenager’s problems, the teenagers whose attitudes will slowly deviate from what is considered ordinary and expected from adolescence (which was mentioned above). That is when a psychologist’s professional help should be sought.

Μπουραντά Μαργαρίτα

Msc. Psychologist

Clinical psychologist/child psychologist

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