The adolescent stage is between 13-19 years of age. They are filled with untapped potential, but the teenage years are often not seen as positive. It’s the stage of life where we are fraught with insecurity and self-doubt. The stage where we make mountains out of molehills. We sit around feeling isolated, lonely, and believing we are the only ones. The brain is still developing and there are a lot of life lessons learned during this period of life and it doesn’t always go smoothly. It can be explosive and full of drama. Author Cassandra Clare writes, “All my life I’ve felt like there was something wrong with me. Something missing or damaged. Every teenager in the world feels like that, feels broken or out of place, different somehow, royalty mistakenly born into a family of peasants.”
I don’t know anyone that wishes to go back to that time in their life again, yet it’s a time of great discovery about ourselves and the world around us. There has been so much emphasis on redefining adversity and pressure as anxiety. Am I the only one that wonders sometimes, if this is a deliberate attempt to profit from bad mental health, as opposed to just handling difficult situations? I digress. I read an article by Dan Siegel, a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at UCLA, a decade ago in Psychology Today that helped shape my view. He described the teenage years with the acronym “ESSENCE” of Adolescence as follows:
Emotional spark: emotional storms and moodiness. A powerful passion to live life fully, capture life being on fire.
Social engagement: turning towards peers, not parents, seeking supportive relationships. Falling prey to peer pressures to gain membership into a group.
Novelty: seeking risk taking behaviour, courage to leave the familiar and explore the uncertain.
Creative exploration: pushing against the status quo, imagining how things could be; the thrill and passion of discovery.
There’s no greater warrior than a mom protecting her child, however overprotective parents raise the best liars. It’s the damage control phase for parents. We must find a way to manage these turbulent waters with our child while also giving them the freedom they need to explore unfamiliar territory, step out and take chances.
Moving from childhood to adulthood requires teeth and grit. Life is full of circumstances that are beyond our control. Let kids learn and unlearn on their own. Let them fall and stand up again. It’s a hard thing to do when our tendency is to protect. There’s an old saying that we should prepare the child for the road, not the road for the child.
The opinions stated in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Hometown News’ management, staff or writers.