“Children of today love luxury. They have bad manners, and contempt for authority and they show disrespect for their elders. They no longer show manners when elders enter the room. They contradict parents, continually chatter, gobble up things, and tyrannize their teachers.”
Sound familiar? You may be surprised that this was actually written 2,400 years ago by Socrates. The behavior of Adolescents has changed very little in the past several millennia. Yes, conditions and environments have changed, but the behavior is relatively the same.
Adolescence is a topic that cannot be neglected because it is the most difficult and challenging time of our lives. It is also the most remembered. All adults have experienced it.
Quite a number of years ago, while in graduate school, I remember a cogent comment by Dr. Thomas Tutko, a mentor, friend, and nationally recognized sports psychologist. He jokingly said, “Adolescence is a parent’s penance for having had sex.” At the time, it was funny. After three children, it was spot on! If you think that the early childhood years were difficult, adolescence is several quantum leaps more enlightening and painful.
The term teen comes from the old Anglo-Saxon word “teona,” meaning vexations or bewilderment. Not only is it painful and bewildering to parents, but it is also frustrating, vexing, and perhaps even more stressful to the teen. As a result, parents can sometimes feel the tightening tendrils of a python slowly cinching their body like a vice. On the other hand, teens feel they are in the dark vortex of a menacing maelstrom. The ongoing question to both parents and teens is, "How will I ever get out of this minacious muddle?"
Early adolescence is the beginning of cataclysmic collisions of physical, emotional, intellectual, social, and spiritual events! It’s a time for the appearance of zits, over-development or under-development, awkwardness, and hours of bathroom recreation fixing or refining. Most teens are unhappy with the recent changes in their physical looks. Adolescence is the onset of increased put-downs by self and others. Mood swings become the standard rather than the exception. Raging hormones and peer pressure contribute to emotional shifts. It is a period of passionate feelings and mixed emotions. Words are equivocal or dotted with excess emotion. In addition, there are many hyperboles such as “always,” “never,” and, “everybody,” but they are also laced with challenges like “All the other kids can . . .” followed by a plethora of “WHYS?” Even though parents have also undergone the adolescent years, they are also confused and beset by a deluge of WHYS!
Adolescence for me was indeed the most challenging years of my life. But, now in retrospect, compared to today's teens it was a "cakewalk".With summer jobs at sixteen, I was able to buy a car, and attend an affordable university, Never I or my parents needed to consider a student loan. However, today's youth is quite the contrary. The existential crisis of today's adolescents is literally mind-boggling. It's no longer a simple path to adulthood. Then it was school, getting a good job, marrying, buying a house, and having children. Perhaps, a bit simplistic but you get my drift.
Is it any surprise that almost 1/3 of generation Z are still living with their parents or a relative? Student debt, inflation, optimal job opportunities, years of the pandemic, fears of climate change, war, or a new epidemic, the proliferation of drugs/ toxic substances, the unexpected death of friends and relatives, the polarization of politics, fake news, ferreting out the truth, discrimination, the dangers of social media, the proliferation of various types of social, emotional, and physical addictions, the surveillance logarithms of the internet affecting one's personal freedom and choice, ..............ad absurdem. And I thought my teen years were challenging!