When you were a kid your parents controlled everything. They decided when you rose, what you ate or drank, what clothes you would wear, who you could hang around with, what shows you could watch on TV and what time you had to go to bed. You did not have much of a say and you did not mind it either. You needed this kind of care, help, protection and guidance because you were not old enough to look after yourself or think for yourself.
You have grown up now and become a teen. A part of growing up is developing your own identity and it is quite normal. Now you feel you have your own likes and dislikes, views, thoughts and values. It is as if you have changed into a new person. You find that your parents have difficulty in adjusting to this new “you” even though they were aware that one day you would grow up.
When you consider that the teen years are a period of intense growth, not only physical but also emotional, intellectual and social, it is understandable that it is a time of confusion, friction, conflict and turbulence in many families.
You want to laze around in bed a little longer, you would rather not have that cereal for breakfast, choose a hairstyle your friends sport, hang around in the mall after school or spend time on the internet late into the night.
You know hormones play an important role in human feelings but the real cause of turbulence at this stage is the teen’s own uncertainty about who he/she is alongside the desperate need to establish a sense of identity. This involves self-discovery, self-development, self-questioning across a range of issues including gender, convictions, intellect and relationship. A sense of who you are is important for you to feel alive.
You want your parent to become like a mirror. You want that mirror to reflect back to you the vividness and clarity you yourself do not feel. The conflict can often be understood in this context. While the arguments that erupt every now and then are at a superficial level about your daily routine, friends, late nights, homework, housework and respect, your real focus is on parents’ acknowledgement of your maturity, capability and worth.
Gratian Vas is a former teacher, headmaster, principal and resource person for educational institutions. In a career spanning 50 years, he has written over 150 educational and general books for young readers.