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The Stormy Teens

  • According to a middle-aged lady, “We are quite upset that our 12-year-old son Sonu, has begun to neglect his studies. He is preoccupied with his own self.” On the contrary, she said, the 10-year-old daughter, who had a reputation for being slack at school, has developed a renewed interest in scholastic work.
  • A 10-year-old convent-going boy, who is perhaps one of the very few boys in his class, is distressed that most of the girls in the class have recently grown much taller than him. “Man, some of them really look matured and dignified,” he says. “I am yet to mature like that.” He wonders if “I am an underdeveloped pig.”
  • The parents of a 15-year-old tell me, “He has lost direction. He picks up fights with us over trifles. He is beginning to revolt.” He retaliates in still stronger words. To quote him, “What revolt? I am no longer a child. I too need freedom. What is there if I court a girlfriend? I demand my rights and dignities. How long will my dad and mummy deny me all that?” A girl who had not been warned about “menstruation” wrote this note to a confidante the day she had her first period: “I am terribly scared. I do not know what wrong I have done to deserve this fate. I cannot even talk to my parents about it. What’ll they think?”

These instances have been specially picked to focus attention on some of the highlights of the stormy period of transition, the so-called adolescence. As has been rightly put, “Adolescence is much more than one rung up the ladder from childhood. It is a built-in, necessary transition period for ego development. It is a leave-taking of the dependencies of childhood and precocious reach for adulthood. An adolescent is a traveller who has left one place and has not reached the next. It is an intermission between earlier freedoms and subsequent responsibilities and commitments, a last hesitation before serious commitments concerning work and love.”

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