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Adolescence - It's Hard to Watch

We all remember how tough it was going through our teen years.  Now that I am a parent of two teenagers I can relate to what other parents of teenagers also know - it's hard to watch someone go through it as well. The problems (and possible solutions) are well detailed in this article, "Parenting Teens: Silver Linings from the Battlefield".


Why are these years so difficult?


We know this:


  • Emotions are intense: teen emotions run high (intense love and experiences of pleasure as well as intense anger) in part because the brain's release of dopamine at this age creates these intense feelings.
  • Frontal Lobe isn't fully developed: as adults (25 and older), our frontal lobes have developed sufficiently enough that we can now, finally, exercise some control over our emotions.  Teens haven't yet developed this ability.
  • Desire for independence is very strong: teens want to define themselves, to "strike out and make a mark".  It's admirable, but the truth of course, is that they haven't yet experienced real life. And by "real life" I mean the mundane but necessary responsibilities like:
    • Getting a job - and at this age, it's probably not a very fun job, and sticking with it day after day 
    • Paying significant bills (e.g., car loans) on a regularly basis
    • Putting money aside for dull stuff like paying for gas or for the laundromat.  
  • They Actively Reject Us: they want to believe that we parents are out of touch, that things are very different now.  Some things are different of course (the ubiquitousness of technology for example), but the dull stuff listed above - hasn't changed.  


Raging Against the Machine


And so we parents have to watch as our teens struggle.  They want so much and we'd love for them to have it.  But no lecture will do the trick at this age.  We can't give them the experiences listed above and no lecture about it could have a significant impact on them.  It's so hard for everyone to experience.


 I think this is why the musical The Fantastiks has been so popular for so many years.  It's a show about two teenagers who fall in -and then out - and then back in - love.  And one of the key points made by the narrator of the show goes like this:


There is a curious paradox that no one can explain. Who understands the secret of the reaping of the grain? Who understands why Spring is born out of Winter’s laboring pain, or why we must all die a bit before we grow again? I do not know the answer; I merely know it’s true. 


The parts about "die a bit" to me means that the unrealistic, naive, intense feelings of the adolescent must "die" a bit before they can become adults.  

It's just so hard to watch.


Video Link


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