The Joys and Challenges of Adolescence:
Adolescence can be a wonderful time of life. Indeed for many, it is. And many adults look back with envy on their teen years. At the same time, it must be acknowledged that we are living in “critical times hard to deal with.”(2 Timothy 3:1). This has placed added pressure on youths, pressure different from that faced by previous generations. The adolescent experience can be considered as walking a tightrope without a net.” Indeed, this tumultuous period of life can be fraught with feelings of awkwardness, anxiety and confusion.
1. What is adolescence?
Simply stated, it is the state of life between childhood and adulthood. You woke up one day and everything had changed. You are a different person in a different body. It is a time which you undergo dramatic changes- Physical, emotionally and even socially. In one sense, entry into adolescence is exciting. After all, it means that you are on your way to becoming an adult. On the other hand, new feelings begin to emerge during this phase of life, and some of them can be confusing even frightening.
However, you need not dread adolescence. True, it had its share of anguish. For you to make a fulfilling transition to adulthood, it also provides a wonderful opportunity for this. Let us see how-first by analysing some of the challenges that adolescents face.
2. Some of the challenges that adolescents face.
1. The Onset of Puberty:
During adolescence, changes take place in your body to prepare you for sexual reproduction. This process, called puberty, takes years to complete, and it affects more than just the development of your reproductive organs, as we will see.
Girls usually start puberty between ages 10 and 12 while many boys begin between 12 and 14. These are just averages, though. According to “The New Teenage Body Book,” each person has his or her own special biological time clock that dictates when the various changes of puberty will occur. So there is nothing wrong with you if you being puberty before or after your peers.
Whenever it begins, puberty can affect how you look, how you feel, and how you view the world around you. This is a period characterized predominantly by turbulence; the fluctuating hormonal changes that come at this time tend to heaven overbearing effect on the entire personality of the child. Hence he could be snappy, rude, moody, lazy, temperamental, difficult, edgy, self-willed and assertive. At this time also, his interest in physical appearance is at the maximum and he looks for a role model to emulate.
Case 1: Emmanuel’s mother once said, “All I want is for my son to be happy and secure.” But Emmanuel aged fourteen is of the different opinion. He says, “I wish she stops talking about my happiness. It is she who makes my life miserable. Her Whining and worrying drive me crazy.”
Case 2: Another mother says to her daughter, “It nearly kills me to see her to go out of Lagos. She is so young I miss her so much. She is all I have.” Juliet aged 18 feels contrary and says. “My mother wants to live my life for me. She would breathe for me if she could. She thinks I am so sweet that I will melt in the rain if she is not around to hold an umbrella over me. I wish she let me live my own life.”
Case 3: The father of Alex says, “I would do anything to see him succeed in life. But Alex, aged 16 says, “I am sick and tired of my father’s advice; he always talk about my future. In the meantime, he is running my present. I have no confidence in myself. I feel like a failure.”
Case 4: Yet another mother says to her son, John “I worry about my son. He does not take care of himself. He has always been a sickly child.” To this John says: “My mother likes to play doctor, and she makes me sick. Tired as she may be if she hears me a cough or cleans my nose, she turns into a long distance runner. If I sneeze in the basement, she comes running from the attic saying; God bless my son. What is the matter, have you caught a cold? Let’s have a look at you. You don’t take care of yourself. You should not stay out so late. Mother hovers me like a helicopter and I am fed up with her noise and hot talks. I think I am entitled to sneeze without an explanation.”
Case 5: Anthony’s mother is hurt and angry. “My son was going out to see a friend. So I said, have a good time. Tony, but behave yourself.” He looked up as though he had been attacked and in a cold voice said; don’t tell me what to do. The dejected mother concludes it has become unsafe to say hello to him. Who does he think I am-his enemy?
This brief yet very crucial period often passes as the most trying and difficult time for the parents as well as the teenagers. They believe that they are capable of finding their way without parental direction. The question at hand now is, how do parents help when help is resented by their teenagers? How do they guide when guidance is rejected. How do they communicate when the conversation is taken as an attack? Can teenagers and parents live together in peace and harmony? Can they enjoy the sweet and strong relationship they once had when these children were much younger? Yes, it is possible God intended it so to be, for the word of God says, “Lo, children are a heritage of the Lord, and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man so are children of the youth” (Psalm 127:3, 4).
Our youths or teenagers are meant to be a source of pride and inspiration, both at home and abroad.
2. Why then is there so much friction between parents and their teenagers?
Parents often provoke their teenage children when:
1. They compare the accomplishment or abilities of these children with that of others and are negative in their comments.
2. They show favouritism towards one of their children.
3. They impose aims, goals and achievements, and in so doing, put undue pressure on their children.
4. They fail to reward or encourage their children.
5. They bail them out of every situation instead of letting them face the consequences of their mistakes.
6. They are over-protective and do not allow their children to do even normal and healthy things.
7. They neglect their children’s needs: spiritually, socially, intellectually and physically, thereby exposing them to the temptation of seeking help from other people or places. This could be dangerous.
8. They nag their children or abuse them with hateful, ugly and bitter words
9. They correct them openly, either in the presence of these children’s friends, younger siblings or even older people.
10. They punish them cruelly or make the punishment harsh or severe in comparison to the offence.
3. What the children look-out for:
1. Often times, teenaged children are looking for a challenge, they want someone to lead them into a purposeful adventure, project, accomplishment or ministry.
2. Parents should understand that teenagers are often given to emotional swings and could be inconsistent.
3. Parents should avoid treating a teenager like a baby.
4. Teenager deliberately adopt a style of life that is different from ours as parents.
5. Teenaged children detest open criticism.
6. Teenagers learn by example.
7. Parents should prayerfully lead their children to know God in a definite way.
8. All teenagers tend to demand some kind of privacy.
Group of adolescence girlsfriends having fun and hugging themselves
3. What’s happening to my body?
Puberty begins with an increase in hormone levels, notably of oestrogen in girls and testosterone in boys. Hormonal changes are partially responsible for the seemingly miraculous physical transformation that follows. In fact, after puberty begins your body grows at its fastest rate since infancy.
1. At this time your reproductive organs start to mature, but that is only one facet or physical development. You may also experience a rapid increase in height. While as a child you might have grown about five centimetres each year, it would not be unusual for you to grow at twice that rate during the growth spurt of puberty.
Throughout this time, to some extent, you might feel physically awkward. This is normal. Remember, different parts of your body may be growing at different rates. A degree of clumsiness can result. But be patient, the physical awkwardness of adolescence will pass.
2. During the puberty, girls begin having a mensural period, which is a monthly discharge of blood, secretions, and tissue debris from the uterus. At first, mensural periods may occur more often or less often than once a month. The amount of flow can vary widely too. None of these situations should cause you alarm. However, irregular periods for a year or two might indicate the need to consult a doctor. There is no need to be frightened when you begin having your mensural periods. After all, it is an indication that your body is functioning normally.
3. During the adolescence, both girls and boys become increasingly conscious of their appearance. Your body may betray you in other ways as well. For example, your sweat glands become more active during puberty, which might make you perspire more. Bathing or showering regularly, as well as making sure that your clothing is freshly laundered, can help you to control body odour. So can use a deodorant or an antiperspirant.
4. Of course, boys can be affected by skin problems too. In fact, some experts say that boys are even more susceptible than girls. Your vocal cords will likely thicken and lengthen during puberty, resulting in a gradual deepening of your voice. This occurred without you even noticing it.
5. It is not unusual for adolescents to experience a wide range of painful emotions. For example, you may find that you and your best childhood friends have started to drift apart. Even your parents to whom you once ran for comfort and security might suddenly seem old fashioned and unapproachable. All of this can leave a teen feeling socially isolated. One of the best ways to counteract loneliness is to reach out to others. This might mean getting to know others who are not your peer group.
The Bible encourages all youths and adults to widen out in their affection for others. (2 Corinthians 6:11-13).
Doing so can open up wonderful opportunities.
The Bible passage quoted is just one of many principles that have helped Christian youths to cope with the challenges of adolescence.
© 2017 ODEWOYE FRANCIS SUNDAY