Ask a parent of an adolescent about the challenges of
raising one, and you can expect them to scratch their head in confusion trying
to figure out where to start! What with technology bombarding every figment of
the growing child’s reality as well as imagination, there are more than a
handful of challenges parents these days face in raising an adolescent.
Maturity hits them way earlier than how it seeped slowly
into us, back then in our days of growing up. So, by the time you have prepped
yourself to give them a brief on the birds and bees they have already done a PhD
on it and you realize that you’re a tad too late in keeping up with them. You
can only pray that they have been safe all along! And, just as they get the
first whiff of adulthood, they start getting extra conscious of their looks,
mannerism, clothes and vocabulary. Not to mention the music they listen to and
the movies and shows they watch on television. So, the challenge here is to
agree with them on what would be a socially and mutually acceptable way of
getting into this new groove in which they have embarked to cocoon themselves.
My fourteen year old son has been wearing T-shirts which are
three sizes larger than his original size. That seems to be the fad these days;
soccer being a popular sport and the oversized tees being inspired from the
soccer players, I assume. I watch in despair when he dresses up for a party
sinking knee deep in his tent-like tee paired with capris and flip flops. How
frequently he takes a haircut is another tacky matter that we disagree on, his
preferred length of hair being too feminine for my taste! The chat lingo has
further added to my woes, with this generation of ‘yo’ kids, assuming that
their LOLs and BTWs are polite replies to thoughtfully drafted emails and
smses.The most irritating reply one gets is a ‘K’ which is supposed to have
replaced an ‘Ok’.How much time do they actually save by not typing an extra ‘o’
before the ‘k’? The ‘k’ reply almost borders to sounding rude or indifferent.
The hip-hop music they grow to love is ten decimals louder than what an average
adult would enjoy. And the entertainment they watch, be it movies or TV shows
are either overloaded with violence or crass, explicit humor.
Along with conveniences, technology has also started
providing grief to us parents. The growing child feels the need to have a
screen in front of his eyes 24/7, be it the computer, smart phone or the idiot
box. Parental control in this matter can be only minimum beyond a certain age.
Online surfing made sure that information management with children is no longer
within a parent’s control. Every query that he has, can be quenched by online
search engines without any censorship whatsoever. The downside of this
so-called convenience is that, he loses out the special touch with which a
teacher or parent could have explained about a certain sensitive topic, with better
tact that would do justice to his tender age.
Peer pressure has always had a powerful role in molding a
child no matter which era or generation it has manifested on. More so, in this
age of competition and complications! Value of money goes down with the growing
earning capacities of the parents. So, a friend holidayed last summer in the
Swiss Alps. And another friend just got the latest super expensive android
phone. Not to speak of the innumerable versions of games, the PS3s and Xboxes
churned out in the market to be happily yapped up by our own bunch of gizmo freaks.
Never before have we had real life brand ambassadors from this age group. Their
loyalties with the FCUKS, Nikes, Reeboks and Converses of the world are simply unshakable,
although it does shake our pockets out and out. The food habits also get
influenced when these coolly clad wannabe yuppies start hanging out together at
fast food joints eating processed unhealthy foods which contain large doses of
monosodium glutamate. What happened to the joys of eating freshly made
delicious Indian food?
Amidst all this chaos sits their education as the crucial
foundation of their overall development. The curriculum being far more
extensive than what it used to be, the pressure it puts on the student is no
joke. The plethora of specialized courses offered after he completes his high
school only leaves him more confused regarding the direction he needs to take
as per his aptitude. It becomes imperative at this stage that he be counseled
by either parents, teachers or in some cases by a professional.
Having stated all the intricacies of the ‘in your face
‘issues while dealing with your adolescent tyke, it all boils to two major
qualities one needs to focus on while bringing up a growing child:
Time Management: Is he spreading out his time evenly
as per the priority of his chores? Does the amount of time he spends in front
of a screen justify the time he needs to spend on his studies, reading,
spending time with family and outdoor sports? Make him list his priorities and
in the order of his priorities analyze the time he actually spends on them
versus the time he needs to.
Self Management: What sets him apart from his bunch of
cloned friends, his over sized tees, his long hair or his nails that needed to
be trimmed two weeks back? Also worth affirming and reaffirming from time to
time is the fact that health comes first and need to be ‘cool’ by resorting to
drugs,alcohol or unprotected sex is ‘not so cool at all’ with the scale of
damage it does.
There is arguably nothing more appealing than a healthy well
groomed and well spoken individual. Neither the brand he wears, nor the spikes
he sports. It is important to teach our children that they need to be spending
time enriching themselves with knowledge; also demands clarification is the
fact that ‘knowledge’ and ‘information’ are NOT one and the same. Parents
should insist that their children should speak well and have a strong sense of
individuality through the way that they dress. Last but not the least, in this
growingly self centered and violent world; teach him gratitude, empathy and
Half the battle is won if your child understands the
effectiveness of the above stated, and shapes his lifestyle accordingly. After
all, a strong and positive personality is a result of proper guidance and
upbringing which all of us can provide our kids with. How about not being a bunch of
parents aping each other blindly, but instead put our thinking caps to use? Our
influence on our kids should be stronger than the influences outside our homes,
of which we must protect and shield them during their roller coaster years.