Important issues that teens face
At the very outset they are struggling to come to terms with their body image. The cherubic appearance of childhood gone, they are looking at strangers in the mirror, gawky, disproportionate limbs, facial features, facial hair and acne to mention a few. They don’t know what to do with their hands and legs, I see teenagers as those struggling to find a place in society, be recognized by their peers and be accepted for what they are. This is the most important task of their lives at this juncture and they are faced with a lot of anxiety and insecurity as they work around this. I take my son as an example. My son is brought up to be respectful, helpful, kind, gentle, tolerant, follow moral and biblical principles of honesty, integrity etc. He has chosen to live by what he is taught. The struggle that I see each day is food for thought. Looking at the world around, these values are passé- this teen sticks around like a sore thumb because he is not like the rest of his peers - aggressive, pushy, vulgar, defiant and lack moral values, to name a few. His friends don’t accept him though they know that when they are in trouble they can find help here. He dares to be a loner because of his choice.
All around him, the media is not so subtly preaching that it is okay to do anything that makes you feel good. You are cool only if you have ‘things’ is what is shouted from housetops. The shows on television for this age group say all is fair in teenage - be it bullying, premarital sex, aggressive / violent behavior, breaking rules. What is the teenager learning? What is a teen to choose? Who is to blame? Is it their fault if they become are confused teenagers, defiant teenagers or out of control teenagers? Often termed ‘fidgety’.
Teenage stress increases with school work and as they move higher, a number of projects to be done, tests to cope up with, professional choices to be focused on, drama, literary forums, sport and other extracurricular activities from the school front add to the pressure. On the social front, a new and tantalizing horizon opens up- dating, partying, hanging out with friends, vying for attention with the distraction of the media, sports, music, internet relationships etc. The teenager is under much duress to schedule time, prioritize work and achieve goals. Effective learning skills could be of great help to these teenagers.
Parenting teenagers is like walking on thin ice. Parents need to strike the right balance. Often times parents live their dream through their children this is when the pressure builds. Expecting the teenager to excel in academics, get good grades, be the child of their expectations – well behaved, responsible for themselves and sometimes for their younger siblings and bring in accolades from extracurricular activities - is in itself enough pressure.
Added to this is peer pressure. Teens, to be accepted among peers, feel the need to become more popular through other channels like music, sport and if need be by bulling and getting into school gangs… and are often under great stress to become acceptable and popular. Amid such hectic activity, the seeds of restlessness, anxiety, fear of failure, unbearable stress is all planted. The most immature and easy way out could lead them to other problem areas like formation of unacceptable habits.
Every significant other adult around the teen is attempting to mold him / her into some acceptable shape. Parents, teachers, elders in the family, social groups are all party to this. The teen is hardly ever able to do what he / she wants to do with his / her life. Even though people do not push their views down their throats, they are still under a lot of strain because of the variety of suggestions given and the fear of failure. Frequently, teens arrive at decisions which conflict with their own skills or fields of interest.
The teen is suddenly expected to act like an adult, with good