Alexis asks: How can we prevent teenagers’ problems ?
Hi Alexis –
Oh my dear, that’s all I ever do! I spend my whole time here trying to help prevent (or solve) the problems that kids and teenagers get into.
There are about ten thousand things we can do to try to help reduce teens’ problems, but the truth is that we can never prevent them. There are a number of reasons for this.
First, life happens! People have problems that no one can prevent – at any age.
But secondly, adolescence is one of the toughest times any person has in their life. Their body is changing, hormones are going wild, they’re terrified of the world and aggressively fearless at the same time, they can’t handle the stuff they’re feeling a lot of the time… and this is just plain tough!
And thirdly, that fearlessness I mentioned above? If you were able to completely secure a teenager’s whole world, to where they had no dangers at all, they’d just break out and find some dangers of their own! The job of a teenager is to test boundaries and authorities so that they can define themselves in the world. If they don’t rebel in some ways, they really aren’t developing in the ways they need to. That doesn’t mean they need to become horrible people, but they need to do some stuff that’s not quite acceptable, so that they can become the great adults they should.
So our job becomes very hard. And, having said everything I’ve said above, here is my real answer to your question: what we can do is everything we can, to help prevent their problems being too awful, and at the same time, be ready to help them when that fails! Should we educate them about the great dangers in their lives – drugs, violence, drunk driving, unsafe sexual practices – and encourage them to value their health and future and personal worth? Absolutely! And if we do, hopefully they won’t do the worst things they might.
But will they fall in love with the wrong person and get their heart broken? Will they do something very unhealthy and get hurt or damaged? Will they break rules? Will they blow some assignment at school that hurts their chances? Definitely.
But if you can still be there for them. If you can love them at their worst. If you can avoid taking it personally when they treat you with disdain or fury. If you can possibly stand their blaring music!
Then you’ll be doing everything anyone can.
It’s not enough. Of course it’s not… but most of the time, if you’re lucky, it actually is.
Best of luck!