By Sameen Sadaf
“O you who believe! Ward off yourselves and your families against a fire (hell) whose fuel is men and stones!” (At-Tahrim 66:6)
Adolescence, or the teen years, is a stage in a person’s life between puberty and adulthood. After the first two years in a child’s life, this is the only other stage in which a significant growth spurt occurs, bringing about a lot of physical and emotional changes. At this crucial point in life, the teen needs almost as much attention as a baby. However, the nature of the required attention is different.
The problems start when most parents fail to realize this need of their teen. A common mistake parents make is that they reduce (or sometimes completely let go of) the need to guide the child. Dr. Ron Taffel, a prominent psychologist, says: “Even as kids reach adolescence, they need more than ever for us to watch over them. Adolescence is not about letting go. It’s about hanging on during a very bumpy ride.”
Creating a balance between the ever-changing emotional and physical states during adolescence is a difficult task for the teen to accomplish on his/her own. Parents can quite easily prevent the formation of an unbalanced personality by providing the right environment at home.
If the teen has a loving and friendly environment at home, he/she will never look for solutions outside. It is vital to discuss with the teens the physical and emotional changes at puberty, as each stage comes along. This will save them the trouble of seeking solutions elsewhere.
“Tell them, because if you don’t, someone else will,” says Memoona, a teacher at an Islamic school.
George R. Holmes in his book “Helping Teenagers into Adulthood: A Guide for the Next Generation” says: “It’s important for a teenager to be given as much responsibility as early as he or she can accept it – it promotes a sense of being trusted and a sense of being mature, and gives one an increase in self esteem. When people are ignored or indulged, or must have things done for them, they find themselves inept and inadequate in the world and usually very, very angry.”
Devising and assigning different tasks to teens at home helps them to become more responsible and keeps them occupied, leaving lesser time for TV, video games or chatting. Mothers can involve their teens in doing different household chores by assigning such duties as filling up the water bottles, throwing out the trash, washing the dishes or ironing the clothes. You can also give them a choice of chores they prefer to do.
Watching informative programmes on the television as a family, cooking together on the weekends, playing mind games, discussing books, studying the Quran together with your teens and going to the mosque for daily prayers are all positive activities and good alternatives to modern-day technology, which tends to make children more passive than active.
Talking to teens helps. And this doesn’t mean interrogation such as: “Have you cleaned your room?” “Have you prepared for your test?” It also does not mean constant critical evaluation: “Look at your hair!” “You can’t even eat right” It means to hold a meaningful conversation where you are the listener and your teen does the talking. With practice, you will be able to bite your tongue and become a genuine listener, empathizing and understanding your teen’s views.
If some unacceptable habit or event comes into your notice, don’t panic or get angry. Patience is the only virtue that can guarantee success. Patience, love and prayers with consistent effort are the most effective tools to deal with your teens.