Adolescence - how do we experience? Youth and their parents.



We're all human beings and no matter who we are today, we've gone through different stages in our life. Every phase was significant for general development and gave us the essential knowledge to be able to carry on living with new tasks and challenges. As a babies, we’ve learnt how to explore environment, new shapes, colours, smells and tastes of the world. Little later, when we started to be self-conscious, about year 5, parents and caregivers have shown us another dimension of existence - interpersonal relationships. We found out how to get along with people and have met the normative system that organises people's relations and behaviours. We were still fully dependent on adults, and they were our authority - that’s why in sociology and psychology they’re called “Significant others”.  We’ve known the rules the way they showed us. We were sharing their opinions about things and other people. 

About 13 years of age, when we are starting to change biologically, our mental site is also experiencing some transformation. In our mind we become an individual entity and “Significant Others” don’t matter that much to us. But this is only temporary- it’s form of youthful rebellion. We begin to deny everything around and reject so far great views presented by parents and teachers. We maintain that we know the best, and everything else is wrong. We want to follow our route, and no one can stop us. There is more arguments, anger, lack of understanding, and sometimes even aggression is involved. All of these are caused by being unsure what is right or wrong, how the world should really work. Why? Because when we grow up, we notice that anything is that simple as it seemed to be in the past. We are looking on the world with our eyes, facing little dilemmas and bigger problems. We have to start making serious decisions, like for example choosing school we want to go to. It may sound silly while mature, but if you go past you would remind yourself what you were feeling that time. In this period different people become an authority for us - and we select them. Peers are as important as adults and family at some point in our life. They put us on the track that was so far unknown to us.

Physical transformation has a significant impact on our mentality too. It is very often underestimated, and we don’t realise, how awkward teenagers can feel during puberty. We feel torn in the certainty of own existence. Changes are not sudden, but as young people, we are not noticing many of them. We then become aware that our body looks different than before and sometimes we are not happy with what we see. Girls have bigger issues with acceptance of the metamorphosis. The reason is that female pay more attention to their look and more often have some expectations or imagination of ideal body that they want to have.  They’re also very receptive on to patterns of perfection which are created by mass and social media. Being far away from this pattern can cause disillusionment and personality disorders. The newest research led by NHS have proved that in last three years, the percentage of teenage girls and boys who suffer from eating disorders (including anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa) double increased. The scientist explains this boost by an impact of social media, which portray most beautiful bodies and perfect faces.  

The Royal College of Psychiatrists says, that the central cause of various disorders is the social pressure which makes the achievement of success built upon external appearance. In UK ver 1.6 million people are estimated to be directly affected by eating disorders. It is likely to be an underestimate. Good quality comprehensive services for people with eating disorders are not yet available in many parts of England.

Feelings intensify during adolescence. It is related to the mindset of the young person, as she finds herself in the position, that places her on the border between carefree childhood and serious adulthood. The teenager feels everything deep inside, and this period is characterised by an emotional tension. For instance, sadness will be exaggerated, and happiness will also be extra strong. A major trait of this emotionality is its ability. An impression of weakness is intertwined with the conviction of strength and incredible ability to achieve impossible. In the first stage of puberty is more of negative feelings, fears that occur, because we are not sure about our future, how we going to manage our life and contacts with other people. Moreover, we begin to show signs of anger, aggression and uncontrolled rage. Not because we are bad or hotheaded, but because we’re frustrated. Our annoyance is associated with the impossibility of realisation our plans, limited privileges, control and constraint. All of this negativeness is manifested by irony, sarcasm, yell or even silence. On the other hand, at that time we experience a lot of excitement, enjoyment, optimism and infatuation. Our needs are upgrading too. We wish to be autonomous, self-sufficient and have a lot more freedom than before. It includes not only the views, feelings, activity but the main sphere of decision-making. This selection is not always right or beneficial, but we want to have a chance to even make mistakes. Everyone does and must do to live own life.

What is then the role of parents and what impact it has on “young adults”?

Parents are the most loving ones, and they always care about their children. Furthermore, they want to stop them before making wrong choices and bearing the consequences. But even if mum or dad are right (and sometimes they really are :)) teenagers have their opinion and introduce all facts different way. There is a collision in the perception of the same things. It’s called “conflict of generations”, and it’s happening since always. It’s better to accept this fact straight away and try to find the way to go through it than just deny its existence.  Obviously, parents are more experienced, they have better knowledge of life, know how to deal with problems and don’t get upset with no reason, but despite this, they are also human beings and have to admit that they don’t know absolutely everything. There are few things parents do wrong and changing this kind of behaviour can lead to stronger relationships with growing children.


The most common gaffes parents do are:


Judging and comparison to others - Comparing teens to their friends, siblings or even to parents is setting some hierarchy when someone is better, and someone is worse. We are more likely to judge and compare negative behaviours that happened. Nobody likes to be in the lost position, and if it takes place, revolt occurs 


Being too critical -  As I’ve mentioned above, young people want to make own mistakes, this is their method of learning the life and drawing conclusions. Usually, they know when they do something inaccurate or particularly evil, and not admitting this loudly doesn’t mean they have faith in their unlimited infallibility. Through this, we are looking for a way to express our selfhood and individuality


Lack of consequence - I was writing in one of the previous articles of how meaningful outcome is in parenthood and how consequent behaviour is influencing child development. Standing hard on our ground is essential for raising an emotionally stable and self-confident individual. In the spiral of uncertainty that is served to youth each day, the last thing they need is parent who is changing mind.


Spying - Because parents want everything best for their offspring they think that all tricks are permitted unless intentions are good too. Crossing borders of privacy (reading diary, texts, bury in the closet), is the most popular action taken by anxious parents. The child will feel hunted, embarrassed, humiliated and upset that there is lack of trust and understanding.


What will help to overcome this difficult time?


Spending time together, chatting a lot. Tell your teenage child about yourself in his/her age, about your disappointments, infatuations and hard decisions you had to make.


Respecting child’s personality - do not go overboard with criticism. Make sure that you will try to give some helpful advice rather than criticise every choice. Sometimes, the same thing, put in different words can make a huge difference.


Ask, don’t tell - No one likes to be told what to do - neither you! The polite request will benefit to you both.


Laugh together - chill out and have fun. Take your errors as an example to show your child that mistakes happen and there is no blame culture. You make mistakes too and instead of getting upset learn from them and laugh at them later on. This will make your teen believe that life goes on and failure is just a part of success.


Make an agreement - talk to your child about future events and plans. Get him involved in your decision-making process. Let him feel important and manifest your trust


Keep the word - if you want your child to be responsible lead by example. Don’t make promises if you can’t fulfil them. Otherwise, you throw words to the wind, and you can be sure that your teenager will be doing the same.

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