Many teenagers are disillusioned and not unduly. They see the inconsistencies in society that adults have accepted.
They see wars that are funded by one party to both sides, broken political systems, greed and injustice. Pharmaceutical companies that say they want to "help" people, at exorbitant costs and excessive profit. They see professional sports players and celebrities being paid astounding sums of money compared to the teachers that are guiding them to lead our world. They see children in third world countries dying of thirst while developed nations spend trillions of dollars on war machines. Teens know on a deep level they are about to enter a world of paradoxes as full participants.
Layering upon their creeping awareness of the injustices of the world, add puberty. This is a confusing and hormonal time in their lives. We do our best to ignore it, but their bodies are mature and ready to create life and experience the joys of sex. More inconsistencies abound on this taboo topic: society tells them to repress sexual feelings and deny what the body is shouting at them urgently to express. Then, despite being told not to be sexual, they are being flooded with images of sexuality in advertising and media, where they have easy access to pornography. Internet porn is particularly problematic for boys, who choose fantasy over the challenges of real relationships due to the inherent brain architecture of the male. (To read more about this, click here. And by the way, most boys seek out porn by age 10.)
So, teenagers are dealing with angst about society and confusion about their bodies. Could we possibly add more pressures? Yes, there is more, and each of these is major: peer pressure, social anxiety, the challenging task of self definition, and looming responsibilities.
It is hard to be a teenager for neurological reasons too. Teenagers do not have a function developed in their brains which gives them pause before doing something risky and/or possibly damaging. As difficult as it is, we must let teenagers experience suffering, pain and loss to develop their wisdom. It is extremely difficult to watch this process of development, and let go of our reins of control. There was a time when we did need to control and protect them and their world, when they were little and vulnerable. Teenagers know that this time has ended, and that we don't want to let them go. It is hard to be a parent. We still see them as vulnerable, and they are. However, unless we do start to let go, they cannot grow, make mistakes, and become strong and independent.. When we do try to keep control during this tumultuous time in their lives, many become rebellious and full of attitude. Some crumble and feel hopeless or unworthy.
Is your teenager feeling down, anxious, or full of anger? There are many ways to help your teenager including teaching them communication, social and life skills, reprogramming low-self esteem, teaching emotional self-regulation, building their resilience and confidence, and giving them hope for the future.
Would you like help to communicate better with your teen, or would you like someone to help your teen feel better and teach them some skills to make it through their transition to adulthood? Book an appointment with me here.
ConnectTeen: A confidential peer support program for teenagers in distress. Chat sessions are also available.