Struggles of parenting teenagers
Hegin Misao Hangmi
Identifying Teens Problems
Parents usually observe their children closely, and they tend to know when something is beyond the range or ordinary. And yet, many hesitate, because they do not know the signs by which to identify potentially serious problems. Parents have the responsibility to identify their teen’s problems and help them in bringing them up to maturity and independence.
There may be several problems faced by today’s teens, but the writer wants to discuss some of the common problems of teenagers in today’s world.
One of the most common problems that can harm or destroy a young person’s life is depression. For many parents it is still unrecognized to be the cause of problems in Teenagers. It is also dangerous because depression can result in the worst of happenings – from work failure to suicide. Depression is difficult to identify in young adults because they are good at masking it.
They can cover it by appearing to be all right, even when they are absolutely miserable. The best way for parents to identify depression is to recognize its symptoms. As described by Ross Campbell, the symptoms of depression are: feeling of helplessness, hopelessness, despondency, and despair; problems with too much or too little with weight loss – and lack of energy. Other symptoms can be feelings of low self-esteem and problems handling anger.
If parents see persistent sign of depression in their teenagers, they should talk to them about it, and try to discover what they are feeling, and provide emotional support.
Mohan Sivanand says; “Depression is a crippling illness. But, with a little help from observant parents, and with proper medical treatment, most teenagers will recover and return to healthy, productive lives.”
A study has found that mild depression is linked to bone loss in pre-menopausal women as it significantly increases their risk of developing osteoporosis.
During this difficult time of depression, the important thing for parents is to maintain a positive relationship with them, and try to give the kind of help they need. Parents can even encourage their teens to find professional assistance, if they are not able to help them. This is the time when they really need love, support, and closeness more than ever.
2. Anger and Aggression
There are many forms of anger that causes the greatest problems, especially for teens, experts call passive aggressive behavior. Like depression, it is a behavior that is seldom identified.
Anger may be defined as an automatic reaction to any real or imagined insult, frustration, or injustice, producing emotional agitation, which the person may or may not be aware of, but which will seek expression in some sort of aggressive, defensive, or destructive manner to oneself or others.
As defined by Ross Campbell, “passive-aggressive behavior is primarily a subconscious determination or motivation to do exactly opposite of what one is supposed to do.”
Passive-aggressive behavior in teens is the worst way to handle their anger because it is a choice to do wrong and can become part of their character. If this problem or behavior is not understood and dealt with, it can harm and even destroy a teen’s life.
Dr. Carlson says, “There is a direct correlation between our feelings and inadequacy or inferiority and the anger in our lives.” Therefore, the more inferior a teenager feels, the greater the likelihood that they are going to be angry.
There is a big difference between a teenager who yells and screams when she is angry and one who loses control and becomes seriously destructive of personal and /or assualtive to other people.
Behind anger there is always some kind of hurt – physical pain, disappointment, or sadness. Often this hurt is a reaction to a recent injury – being rejected by a boyfriend/girlfriend, doing badly in a test, or getting an argument with a classmate, harsh words spoken by a parent.
Parents need to encourage their teens to confront and learn to cope with their feelings and negative emotions. So that, they can experience liberation and fulfillment from their aggressive behavior, and achieve a more significant grasp of the concept of God’s grace and mercy. They should be encouraged to talk with God about their feelings.
3. Alcohol/ Drugs
Drugs and alcohol abuse are a major problem in our society. Today’s teens face tremendous external pressure to alcohol/ drug use. The reason or the cause for the usage can be curiosity, excitement, and rebellion. The other reasons may be, just to feel more grown-up, or to escape unpleasant or painful feelings, such as anxiety, frustration, anger, or depression. On the other hand, teenagers are encouraged both by their peers and by society. Magazines and billboards bombard them with messages that drinking something alcoholic will make them attractive, sexy and successful.
It is essential for parents to obtain fact-based articles about drug abuse and suggest teenagers to read them. As Gary Chapman says, “giving your teenagers information about the detrimental effects of alcohol and drugs is information that can lead the teenagers to make wise decisions before they are pressured by their peers to drink or use drugs.” The writer thinks that, it will be good for parents to talk with their teenagers about the way advertisers seek to exploit people by showing them only one side of drinking and drug use.
Parents should know signs of drug use in their teens. Dr. Cline described the signs of drug use and abuse in this way; a sudden worsening of school or college grades or sudden changes in friendship at school/college. Sometime a drug abuser will experience mood and attitude changes for no apparent reason”.
A medical expert says, there are medical problems that closely parallel the symptoms of acute drug abuse, depression is one of them. Also, natural physiological changes associated with teenagers can cause behavioral fluctuations. In case, parents suspect drug use, it is advisable to remain quiet and not burst out. Instead, they should talk it over with their teens and help them in solving the problem their teenagers face.
The most effective way to keep teenagers from getting involved in drugs and alcohol can be showing love toward them, speaking love in a language that communicates to them emotionally.
Mr. Pannir states, “lack of parental love at home, impaired and tense relationship between parents, dictatorial handling of children have been traced out as significant root causes.”
Parents can do nothing to guarantee that their teenage son or daughter will not get involved with drugs and alcohol. Parents cannot follow teenagers twenty four hours a day and make sure they do not ingest alcohol and drugs. However, there are things a parent can do to make drug use less likely. The most powerful is to model abstinence.
Dr. Gary Chapman says, “Teenagers who watch parents misuse prescription drugs are much more likely to become drug users. Teenagers who watch parents take a drink every night to unwind are far more likely to use and abuse alcohol.” Cure is not possible without parental participation and faith in God.
4. Premarital Sex
Today’s culture is saturated with sexually explicit images, references, and jokes. It seems as if every other television advertisement contains an indirect or direct reference to sex. Young people are bombarded with inappropriate, immoral messages. Teens need parental guidance in this area.
They need their parents’ help to withstand the immense sexual temptations they face.
Despite the deadliness of AIDS and other sexual related sicknesses, increasing number of teens seems to make premarital sex part of their lives. With today’s technology, the influence of movies extends even beyond the theater. The CDs and DVDs, Internet, Smart Phones bring films and their messages right into the homes. And when it comes to the subject of sex, the message most movies present is even stronger and more explicit then that of television. The mass media gives a clear message to youngsters that premarital sex has no negative consequences.
The pressure from boyfriend or girlfriend is one of the reasons for premarital sex. They think that having sex is showing and proving their love. Since they are afraid of losing a boyfriend or girlfriend they end up having sex. There is a lack of understanding about real love among teenagers.
Parents should let their teens know that love is not an act; love is a commitment. Teens not only have a need to love, but to be loved. One teen wrote, “It is obvious, that the emotion teenagers fear most is loneliness. The thought of being without love leads most teenagers to believe that sex leads to love.”
Dr. Josh McDowell had noticed several important factors which contribute significantly to teenage sexuality. They are discussed below;
Teenagers desire to experiment combines with hormonal urges and curiosity. The excitement of the chase, the thrill of doing something new, and the anticipation of physical release make sex enticing to teenagers.
Hurt, anger, broken relationships, and a craving for affection create a tremendous strong drive for sexual encounters among teenage girls. Acceptance by a peer group is one of the strongest needs in a teenager’s life, so teens are vulnerable to peers pressure. Sex is a way of gaining popularity with certain people, and through them, the larger group.
The use of alcohol and drugs play an important role in lowering the defenses and stimulating sexual advances. Also, “the earlier a teen begins dating, the more likely he or she will engage in premarital sex”.
Teenagers also need facts on venereal diseases, AIDS, and the risk of pregnancy. These should be presented in a cool, loving, matter-of-fact manner. When parents are unsure of facts, they can easily obtain articles and books available for teens concerning the risks of premarital sex.
Parents, therefore, should assume the responsibility of educating their kids about sex and regulating what they are exposed to. There is a need to be open, frank discussion about sexual messages and images teenagers receive so that their curiosity will be satisfied by their parents.
(To be contd)