One of the most crucial stages in the lifespan of man is the adolescence period. It is essentially the stage that ultimately determines the outcome of a life. Unfortunately, it is often mismanaged because the custodians of this cohort both teachers and parents often engage ineffective traditional training techniques that have not essentially proven good.
These people cannot be managed through trial and error methods because the future of a nation largely depends on how well they are managed.
The adolescent is unfortunately saddled with a body that has all the embodiments of adulthood but with a mind that is just growing and devoid of mastery that comes with years of experience.
The hormones are powerful chemicals that activate the secondary sexual characteristics in the physical body which rushes them into ideological, emotional, cognitive and religious tendencies that may be destructive when they are not guided.
The brilliant psychologist, Jean Piaget, described this period in his cognitive theory as been dominated by hypothetico- deductive reasoning. The adolescent is naturally equipped by nature to challenge the status quo because he must make deductions of his hypothesis. He is naturally adventurous and reckless at this point as he performs dangerous experiments to validate his theories in the search for identity. The craving for meaning although a lifelong preoccupation becomes an intense need in the adolescent period.
The desire for varied sexual adventures becomes very strong because of the hormonal stimulation oftentimes resulting in unwanted pregnancies. This can result in dropping out of school if they do not die from criminal abortion.
Sigmund Freud has told us that the sexual drive is the underlying driving force for all human activities. The adolescent is caught between sexual suppression and expression but a critical balance most times become elusive.
They indulge in unprotected sexual escapades that may predispose them to HIV-AIDS infection and other sexually transmitted diseases which is a leading cause of future infertility. When an immature physical body delivers a baby; there could be damage to the birth canal and the urinary pathway such that she may become incontinent of urine and a candidate for mental illness after childbirth.
The craving for meaning in the adolescence spurs them to join groups that offer fascinating answers to their questions. A good number of them join violent groups in the attempt to define themselves socially, politically and religiously.
This predisposes them to abuse drugs which impair judgment and make them come up with all forms of anti-social behavior. They are prone to injuries arising from physical assault as they indulge in fashions capable of damaging their health. They drive recklessly and many die from preventable motor accidents.
A growing concern is the issue of drug addiction especially marijuana with a good number being initiated at very tender ages to this destructive habit.
In the craving for meaning and adventure, they experiment with drugs that give a temporary sense of happiness and escape from reality which has caused frank mental illness in many while the majority irrespective of their intellectual endowment remains a liability to their families and unproductive for the rest of their lives. Most of them may never earn a living and will not lead a family. The intravenous drug users have an increased risk of getting infected with HIV-AIDS.
A good number squander family wealth in servicing their cravings as they can sell any property at a giveaway price. African traditional sex education approach has made sex an object of curiosity and rebellion for adolescents just as the western media projects sex unrealistically. The truth is that sexual intercourse is just a segment of the whole concept of sexuality that embraces self-respect, self-worth and self-dignity rather than a bargain involving the body in exchange for the material.
Our parents and teachers have overemphasised issues of sex without viewing it as a component for achieving wholesome self-identity which makes us different from animals. The parents’ capacity to creatively engage the adolescent of his evolving ideology as they guide him with their own proven fundamental principles of life is crucial.
Parenting is not a separate skill to learn in the university but an unconscious manifestation of the level of development of the parents. When the parenting function is not effectively engaging; the adolescent seeks meaning outside of the home.
Parents need to connect vitally to their children as they respond to changes in their lives and seek to answer their questions. Teachers are crucial but they are no substitutes.
Balanced religious instructions may be helpful especially when employed to answer their questions. We need to censor information inputs to our children from the immediate social environment and the media capable of frustrating our parenting role. Prevention is the watchword as we seek help from relevant professionals when there are issues.
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