Monday, December 10, 2007

Wild Wild Teens

I just read a very good post here, which talks about how, setting the right priorities, can help kids look at things in the right perspective and avoid unnecessary confrontation with their tired parents. And my personal experience as an elder sister has taught me an important lesson in this regard.

Kids- teenagers more so- are a breed of their own- or at least that is what they like to believe. Being in teens is almost as excruciating for the teenager as it is for the parent/guardian. A teenager is always trying out different masks- and in the process of it- trying to find out his or her true identity. Talking to them (leave apart explaining something to them) is a very difficult task- unless- we think like them.

The issue is not only absence of priorities or misplaced priorities- it is also about the difference in our priorities and theirs. That's what people call the generation gap- and it is not peculiar to teenagers- it is just more emphasized for them, because they don't give a damn about anyone else's priorities. Ironically- that's the way youth is- which is why they are also capable of feats (good and bad) which demure and more mature people won't even dream of.

Imagine being in a group of friends aged 14-something, most of whom have expensive gadgets or totally unacceptable body art. It's all about the coolness quotient- you're either one of them, or you're out to fend for yourself. Parents and siblings suddenly become the most unimportant people in the world for them- as their friends and special friends and extra special friends start assuming mammoth significance. Every teenager is scared of being labeled as uncool or an outcast. Every teenager wants to be the most popular one- and if that popularity comes at the cost of being rebellious at home, then it is "so be it" for them. And that is their highest priority.

But first things first: lets make one thing very very clear. Giving in to their demands every single time is stupidity- because giving in to unreasonable tantrums will never set their perspective right.

So what do you do? Well- you have to negotiate with them like a seasoned bargainer. Let their demands be fulfilled as rewards for something that you would want them to do. Let them realize that every joy is sweeter when preceded by some sweat and hard work. Let them realize the value of money and time by regulating it based on the fulfillment of a promise that they made to you. Let them make some small mistakes- give them a chance to learn from them in stead of trying to restrain them in a protective cocoon.

Agreed- it is much much easier said than done. No one would want to let their child/sibling getting drugged at a late night party or dropping out of high-school- and I am no exception. So yes- some boundaries need to be drawn- and we need to make sure that these boundaries are not crossed- whatever be the reason. And when teenagers start acting up a tantrum, wanting to cross these- it seems like an impossible task to reason with them...

But I speak from personal experience as I say this- the most important thing that teenagers need is self-confidence. They are always in dire need of it. Especially so in today's cut-throat competitive world- where they either have to excel, or resign to being an Average Joe or Plain Jane. So, as irrational or unreasonable they seem- we have to assure them that we believe in them. And that we will continue to do so even if they have plain black hair and no cellphone. They need our faith- not our anger. The more angry and stubborn we get- the more they will rebel.

And most important of all- they need to be told- that it is not us versus them- it is us and them. That it can never be an 'either-or' scenario- it will always have to be an 'and-or' scenario. Once they realize that we are not trying to control their lives and that we just want to have a say in it- they will tone down their hostility.

So be it! :)

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Blogger Amita said...

Well said!

10:58 AM  
Blogger Priyanka M said...

Thanks very much!!! :)

8:11 AM  

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