The Roller Coaster Ride
AASHA MEHREEN AMIN
Having a teenager in the house is like being on the most ambitious roller coaster ride, you never know when it's going to take a huge dip or a heady take-off. The mood swings may leave parents reeling with confusion as you just don't know when the blues will hit your teenager and for the oddest of reasons: because there's nothing good on TV or because you forgot to pay her cell-phone bill.
On the other hand, there are plenty of reasons for teenagers to be depressed. Overburdened by studies, harassed by stalkers, pressurised by peers to do unsavoury things, feeling left out, having raging hormones going haywire, constantly wanting to be accepted by the in-crowd, being rebuked by grown ups, having low self-esteem are good enough reasons for a youngster to feel down.
When a teen starts rebelling parents often go to extremes to control their child. They may get all worked up because their teenager has fallen in love, the most natural human emotion. In villages the fear of daughters getting involved with some local boy and thereby, ruining their reputation, causes parents to marry them off. Even the middle class and wealthy classes share the same sentiment: that teenage daughters are a burden, they must be kept in control and married off before they shame their families. Puberty is seen as a necessary evil that must be crossed over as quietly and safely as possible. Confining them within the walls of the house and monitoring their every move, parents in their attempt to protect their daughters end up maiming their ability to think for themselves. Thus the crushing of the spirit of young girls starts early in life, leaving them feeling helpless, timid and docile. Sometimes this lack of self-esteem stays on well into adulthood affecting their careers, married lives and most of all the confidence to stand up for themselves when they need to.
For teenage boys, it is another story. While they may have a lot more freedom than their sisters, they have to put up with all kinds of pressure from their peers and the outside world that they are so exposed to. Drug addiction, alcoholism and violence are constantly lurking in the corner for teenaged boys whether they live in a slum or a mansion.
Morbid thoughts and dark ideas often fascinate teenagers as they try to make sense of the world grownups call 'normal'. What do you do when your child thinks suicide is a cool thing?
It is a scary place being the parent of a teenager, that baby who once laughed and cried for simple reasons like food or a stomachache, who you could lift up and cuddle without any inhibition or caution. Now, it is like walking on thin ice, any false move can lead you crashing into a cesspool of blank coldness.
There are perhaps no specific ways to raise a teenager the right way. But it does not have to be as fearsome as we sometimes make it out to be. The balance between indulgence and discipline is tricky but the most important thing is to let them know that you love them and respect them as human beings. Knowing your teenager is not always easy but if you are lucky enough to get to that place it will be one of the most exciting experiences of your life. A lot like a crazy, unpredictable, roller coaster ride.
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