Sunday, July 15, 2018

Parent Allergy

 `Teenagers’ Parent Allergy starts at 13`, screamed the headline of an article in a leading daily. The article talks about how parents find themselves in confrontation with their children- boys or  girls-as they enter their teens- the age of thirteen to be precise; when nothing that they do sits right with their teenagers. This phase can last a couple of years or even more depending on how the parents are able to handle their children.

A few months ago, a friend came to me with loads of complaints against his teenage son  who had turned extremely hostile towards his parents accusing them of real and imaginary charges .  ‘You don`t like me because you don`t allow me to do anything that I want to do. You are my worst enemies… I hate you.` he screamed at them one day.  He even threatened to walk out of the house and start a life on his own.  My friend`s efforts to get a few people close to the son to talk to him was also not working. The friend was obviously shattered.

I told my friend that almost all parents go through this phase with their teenage children when they begin to have their own dreams, different from their parents dream for them. Very often the teenagers’ thoughts are greatly influenced by their close friends and peers.  Once the teenagers have had time and space to establish their  own skills, interests and tastes, their allergic response to their parents usually dies down.

I remember the time when we faced  problems with our elder daughter as  she entered her teens .  I was very busy with my career and other activities and it was my wife who had to face the brunt of the tantrums that my daughter used to throw from time to time. As a writer, my wife even wrote an article on the problems she was facing with her daughter, which was published in a leading Tamil monthly for women.

My advice to parents; Try to be friendly parents instead of being bossy. Listen to your children and try to understand their own aspirations before you start imposing your ideas on them. Most important, keep a careful check on the kind of friends that they are close to when they enter their teens. Friends and peers at this stage play a major role in building or ruining a youngster`s life. I know of any number of brilliant students going astray and ruining their lives after they get into bad company at this stage.  Very often such friends belong to  more affluent families  where either the parents have no time to spend with their children or the child comes from a broken home  where the parents are separated. A careful use of `carrot & stick` approach and enormous patience should help parents tide over this particular phase in the upbringing of their children.

Tailpiece:  My friend who complained to me about his son, informs me that, on the verge of entering a college, his son is slowly coming around to becoming a normal boy. God Bless him!

This article appeared in the Adyar Times issue dt. July 15-21,2018 under my columbn `Rajan`s Random Reflections`

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