The Essence of Adolescence

Adolescence is a complex, empowering, and perplexing time in life. Roughly between the ages of 12 through 24, an individual is developing the most important parts of their character. This time is challenging for both the adolescent and the adults who support them. There are many myths that surround adolescence that have now been debunked. These false beliefs have made life more difficult for adolescents and adults, especially in the relationships they create. One of the most powerful myths that has taken ahold of us is the idea that hormones are the main drivers of teenagers’ behavior, and this is why they “do whatever they want”, or “go mad”. This is simply false. Hormones do increase during this period, but it is not the main factor that determines adolescent behavior.

An additional myth is that adolescence is a time for rebellious behavior and “acting out”. With this viewpoint, no wonder most think this is a time that must be endured, hoping to come out the other side with the least amount of battle scars. Being an adolescent is confusing and sometimes scary, so many experiences during this time are new, intimidating, and often intense. Instead of limiting the experience of an adolescent, we need to understand that this is a time to thrive, not just survive. The testing of boundaries, exploring the unknown, or trying something exciting is key for the development of core characteristics that will lead to living a life of adventure and purpose.

Another myth that we have been taught to believe is that growing up requires the movement from dependency on adults to total independence from them. While it is natural and necessary for there to be a movement towards independence from adults, adolescents still benefit from having relationships with adults. A healthy movement towards adulthood should teach interdependence, rather than isolation.

“We learn to move from needing others’ care during childhood to pushing away from our parents and other adults and leaning more on peers during adolescence, to then both giving and receiving help from others”.

That is interdependence.

When we teach ourselves, our children, and each other that the myths that inhibit the connection between children and adults are false, we gain insight and hope towards a healthier and happier future.

Stay tuned for part two on how to have a happy and successful relationship with your adolescent!

Written By: Hannah Slattery

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