It is a truism that parents and teenagers exchange minimal communication on issues concerning the true meaning, purpose and challenges of life. The adolescents often direct their questions to their friends (who are often in the same dilemma), or look for information in books, magazines, social media etc. This has sometimes given the teenagers wrong information leading them to very awkward situations. By the time they get essential facts from parents, it may have been too late.
Nevertheless, this article presents a modest and pivotal approach to family life; it is our timely and PRECIOUS GIFT to loving and disciplined parents who love to see their children excelling in life. Such “gift” stands to let parents and teens know that it is actually possible and important for them to have DIALOGUE that will benefit teenagers and harmonize relationship in the family. Thus, parents and teens should be best of friends.
Hence, this work is a challenge to both parents and teens in every family to initiate and improve dialogue that is direct, sincere, objective and honest on both sides.
THE NEED FOR DIALOGUE
Dialogue between parents and teenagers is a two way communication, in which parents open themselves to the teenagers and receive from them, their opinions, confidences and insights to their feelings. Dialogue is a slow process. At the beginning, one may not have worked enough with certain feelings to communicate them or is not yet sure of the other’s reaction(s). Sometimes, the situation is not favourable to tackle a certain topic, because other subjects are more urgent. One must have patience and tact. In principle, dialogue should be sincere, friendly and exhaustive and should always tend to reach deeper areas of each other’s personality and search for life’s meaning. For teenagers, such questions revolve around physiological and psychological changes, including the sensitive areas of sexuality and relationship with the opposite sex. Hence, there should be a level of transparency, confidence and mutual trust between parents and teenagers. Both parties should not forget that dialogue demands time and disposition. As such, there should be a friendly environment.
PARENTS’ AND ADOLESCENTS’ VIEWS.
Some teenagers seem to appear aggressive and uncontrollable by their parents.
The following tips are some of the reasons why adolescents are often in conflicts with their parents:
Parents: We want happiness and security for our children. We want them to secure better future.
Adolescents: We wish they would stop talking about our happiness. They (parents) are the ones who make us feel unhappy. Their complaints and advice make us crazy.
Parents: We want to help them, we want them to need us.
Adolescents: We want them not to need us.
Parents: We want them happy, healthy and secure.
Adolescents: We don’t want their advice unless we ask them.
Parents: We want to assist them.
Adolescents: We want to be left alone.
Parents: We are worried about them.
Adolescents: We don’t want to be treated like babies.
Parents: We warn them of danger.
Adolescents: They encroach in our freedom.
Parents: We want to be their friends.
Adolescents: We consider them as people who police us. In fact they are our worst enemies, and their time is gone, this is our time.
Parents: We want them to be mindful of the kind of friends they keep.
Adolescents: Our friends are not bad, in as much as they relate with us the way we want. In fact, our friends give us sense of belonging.
Parents: We do our best for them, we want them in good health.
Adolescents: The house we live in is miserable. We are left behind by progress.
CALL FOR FAMILY MEETINGS AND SEX EDUCATION
Call for family meetings are very essential for every home to reassure stability and orderliness in the home. Most times, parents fail in this regard due to one reason or the other, especially in the area of sex education.
THE CHILDREN’S DESK
-The girl child speaks: “Mum, let me tell you the reasons I heard from the other girls for having sex.” One often repeated reflection is ‘why not experience what it is like?’ I also heard one say, ‘we will all go through that one day, why wait?’ Moreover, other girls seemed to think that having sex was the best way they could prove their love for their boyfriends. It was also said that all girls want to be attractive, they want to feel they are loved, and wanted too. One shocked me, particularly when she boasted that she had sex regularly with her boyfriend and that the pleasure she felt every time was greater than any other pleasure she has ever felt-“sex is cool.” Furthermore, some girls believe that men of nowadays don’t really like or appreciate girls who are sexually inexperienced.
-The boy- child speaks: (some of the above reasons were also mentioned) “Dad, many boys think that sex is normal, and that it shows you are matured. If you want to have a steady relationship with a girl, to prove that you really love her, to strengthen your hold on her, sex is the key.” On a sad note, a boy once said, “I want sex because my parents are against it. I prove to them that they can’t dictate for me anymore”.
THE PARENTS’ DESK
Those boys and girls (of the above) do not have the right idea of what love truly is. They consider it as just a search for self pleasure, something of no consequence. Although, sexual pleasure is an undeniable fact or reality. However, ‘sex’ is God’s original design for humanity and is a holy act between husband and wife,’ to the exclusion of unmarried people(Dr Myles M). Let us look at the following issues raised by young people; the beginning of adolescence, menstrual flow, fertility, safe and unsafe sex, courtship etc.
The Beginning of Adolescence: Adolescence means the period of development during which a young person grows from a child to an adult. This corresponds roughly to the teen. Puberty refers to the beginning of this period. For girls, it comes a little earlier than boys. The term puberty is used for that period, because the first time of growth into full manhood and womanhood are seen in the area of the bodies know as pubis, that is the lower abdomen around the reproductive organs. One of the signs of puberty is the growth of hair over that area; pubic hair. The body changes continue for females, the hip becomes noticeable in order to accommodate future babies.
Menstrual Flow: At one moment when the girl has matured enough, the tissue of the birth canal thickens and toughens to be ready for pregnancy and child bearing. The womb, which is also called uterus, enlarges to about the size of a lemon. Biologically, every baby girl has in her ovaries a lifetime supply of undeveloped eggs, over 400,000 of them in fact! Furthermore in the whole of a woman’s fertility life, only four to five hundred of those thousands of tiny eggs will be expelled from her ovaries to womb. Released egg is received by the fallopian tube where it waits to be fertilized by the sperm. If not fertilized, it disintegrates after 48 to 72 hours. The wall of the uterus which had been thickened with blood in preparation to receiving the fertilized egg disintegrates also and comes out as blood and thus, constituting the first menstrual flow (Boisvert). If a girl misses her periods, it could be for various reasons, such as pregnancy, change of environment, dietary changes, ill health or simply because the hormones have not yet stabilized.
Fertility in a woman: A young girl asked her mother saying, “mum, there must be something happening in my body at another moment of my periods. Not once, but twice during a month, and each time for a few days, I feel some liquid flow out of me. Is that natural?”
The mother answered saying, “this is usually considered as the beginning of a cycle. The discharge may follow a dry period that lasts for six or seven days. Then comes another wet period when a thicker fluid, often called cervicalmucus, flows out through the birth canal (as explained above). However, if the way to the woman’s womb is dry, there is no way the sperm could reach and fertilize the egg to cause pregnancy. In addition, there can be safe sex (without pregnancy) in between the moment a woman stop seeing her periods to the 8th or 10th day (after menstruation).” The mucus produced in a woman’s reproductive organ provides suitable fluid for the sperms to swim in it until they reach their destination- the womb. This mucus flows for 7 to 8 days and it remains present in the birth canal for a further 4 days. These 12 or so days are the only period during which a woman is said to be fertile, and capable of being pregnant; a pregnant woman does not experience her period.
That apart, a girl may realize that at times, just before and during the period, she is very moody, bad tempered, irritable. Other times during the middle of her cycle she may feel very high, excitable, loving, cheerful, friendly etc. These are all natural occurrences in normal growing girls.
Courtship: The selection of one’s life partner is a process which requires time and reflection. The first step in the process is called courtship (followed by proposal, engagement and marriage). This also refers to the attitude of two young people who begin to take special interest in each other and try to attract each other’s attention. Although, they may have belonged to the same group of friends for some time, they start now to meet alone and to exchange views, affection and tenderness. At this time also, they study and understand each other in all ramifications or capacities (both weakness and strength), except that of bodily consummation (sexual act) and also seeking medical recommendation from a doctor.
ELEVEN PRINCIPLES TO EFFECTIVE DIALOGUE
The following give better insight on how parents should deal with adolescents.
Adolescents may look disorganized but they are not that bad. They are developing and reorganizing their lives and attitudes. Their disobedience and apparent revolt against authorities is not to defy their elders but to affirm themselves.
Because of the adolescents’ rapid development they lack control of their feelings and reactions, each one of them thinks that his or her case is unique. They need help but should be offered carefully.
They often feel that they are misunderstood. Let us not be impatient with them. Let us avoid asking questions that may be seen as too inquisitive or be interpreted as reproaches.
Parents should make a distinction between acceptation and approbation. They should make clear to their children that they merely tolerate certain things but do not necessarily approve of them.
They should be ready to listen patiently and sympathetically without necessarily signifying approval, disapproval or offering of advice.
Parents would be making a mistake if they try to identify themselves with their adolescent sons or daughters. They belong to a different generation and their offspring want them different.
Adolescents should be encouraged to make their own decisions.
They jealously want their secrets to be respected. It is unwise for parents to be too inquisitive or curious about the young people’s relationships.
Parents should never threaten their adolescent children with future catastrophes “unless they do this or avoid that.” Young people may have to learn certain things by trial and error.
Parents should abstain from pronouncing judgments on their adolescent children’s tastes and opinions. They get better results if they simply mention that they think differently
Yet, it is the duty of the parents to make clear to their adolescent children that these are principles and values they hold sacred and that they are not ready to sacrifice. (Boisvert 2005)
By way of conclusion, after considering the above scenario, parents are highly encouraged to make themselves available, approachable and accessible by the adolescent children because they need someone to listen to their stories. They need someone to confide in. On the other hand, teenagers should have confidence in their parents. They should listen to and obey them, trusting in their live and wealth of experience.
More so, parents should strive to bring their children closer to God through their ways of life. If in any case your child feels reluctant to comply, he/she should be made to know the need to serve God actively, and the implication of not actively serving God, most especially his/her youthful age. However, this should be done politely. Sit your child down and discuss with him/her like a true friend, avoid superiority, nagging and bragging. Furthermore, identify those things that are negatively influencing your child. Is it bad friends? If yes, tell your child the disadvantages of having bad friends? This should not be the last phase to take. Hence, go further to reach out to the friends of your child, telling them the need to be children of discipline (it pays to be disciplined).
The upbringing of a child is one of the most difficult tasks God gave to parents on earth. It is in this regard that I will encourage parents not to disappoint God. As for the teens, my humble submission is that they should put these four RIGHTS into consideration if they want to be greatly successful in life: Be in the RIGHT ENVIRONMENT, with the RIGHT PEOPLE, at the RIGHT TIME and with the RIGHT DISPOSITION. The right disposition is the core aspect of the four rights. It makes an individual to be more outstanding than others in the society.
Boisvert Raymond, Let us talk about love, Pauline’s publications Africa, Nairobi Kenya 2000.
Grugni Anthony, Preparing for marriage, Better yourself books, Bandra Mumbai, 2010
Moloney Michael, Teenagers love and sex, Pauline’s publications Africa Nairobi Kenya 2000
Munroe Myles, Understanding the purpose and power of woman, Whitaker House 2001
Paul Preye, “The Feast of the Holy Family,” a reflection given at St. Anne Catholic Church, Burutu, Delta State, 30/Dec/2012.
Wanda Pamela, Educating your child for life, Pauline’s publications Africa, Nairobi Kenya, 2010.
PAUL, Samson Preye, is a lover of academic excellence. His intellectual agility and creativity is highly fantastic. He is a patriotic Nigerian, a dual citizen of Delta and Bayelsa States of Nigeria. Precisely from Ayakoromo and Aghoro communities. He had his Philosophical studies from the prestigious University of Benin, Benin-City Edo State. Currently, he is at the penultimate class of his Theological studies in the Catholic Major Seminary of All Saints, Uhiele-Ekpoma, Edo State (In affiliation with the Urban University, Rome). He is from the Catholic Diocese of Bomadi. However, Preye has gifted hands. He is a motivational speaker and writer. Some of his classmates call him an Orator. He has been invited for several student conventions, seminars/workshops and paper presentations in academic and non academic platforms. He has to his credit, awards of excellence, articles published in international journal, magazines (including online), powerful reflections in religious bulletins and others. He has passion for volleyball and music.
His philosophy of life: ACT YOUR PART WELL, FOR THERE LIES YOUR HONOUR.
Phone no: +234(0)8138903438.