I’m thirteen now, fourteen this April. Two years later, I will hold my driver’s license. Four years later, I will be termed ‘an adult’, and more or less, thrown into the outside world by myself to survive. My point is, I’m not sure I’ll be ready for that. Nobody is ready for that. But I will eventually cope, because millions of other amateur adults do.
It is not easy for a parent to suddenly stop being a parent. A baby will always be a baby to parent, even if a five-feet and six inches tall baby in jeans with highlights in her hair. To put it briefly, it is not easy for anyone to let go of anything, least of all for a parent to let go of a child. Children grow up. It is a universally unarguable fact. But it is just not their body growing. It is their mind and their opinions growing too, alongside their body.
There is no lack of teens wanting to be ‘left alone’, or ‘be independent.’ I would say that is true for me, too. Often, I am positively burning with anger over some decision of my parents’, and thinking that that decision was mine to make, not theirs. My journal is full of scribbled negativity, often directed to family, just because they do so many things I don’t like. I can’t always wait till I’m eighteen. I have a mind of my own, even if the mind of a child.
We always say that to understand another person well, it is best to put yourself in their shoes. Try to look at things from their perspective. It is easily said, but not as easily done. Empathetic intelligence is not always sufficiently competent between adults and children. Adults may listen to their minds, and children to their hearts.
Due to the way today’s world is socially interacting, parents and guardians- in fact, nearly all adults- fear even more to let their ward roam free in the wide world. Well, it is quite true. I am doing what I suggested earlier. I am putting myself in adults’ shoes- in my own parents’ shoes- to feel their sense of hesitance and protective caution. Again, as I say, it is true. Their fear is quite relevant, the world is actually gradually turning into a free-flowing river of corruption, selfishness, cruelty, and indifference. I honestly admit- if I was a parent, I certainly would have had second thoughts about setting my child free into a world of which we are just a fraction.
“That’s why, when your child starts the journey of separating from you, you may react in all sorts of strange ways. You as a parent may feel suddenly out of control. Of yourself as well as of your child.” says Suzanne Moore, in her article about growing teenagers. I read this one article, and it made me realize all over again that through the voice of other teenagers, I was reading about myself.
“For me, the secret to having a happy teen is giving them space and freedom – without that, there is no fun and happiness. But you also need to find common ground,” said Katie Adamson, a thirteen-year old interviewed for the article. It is quite true, space is necessary to grow, freedom is necessary to learn.
“When I’m going to a party, Mum wants me to call her when I get there, after an hour, when I leave. She says she wants me to have my independence, then takes it away by asking for the phone number of the place I’m going. They want you to get a job, but won’t let you stay at a friend’s house. Teenagers are hypocritical about this, too: our need for independence changes by the minute.” says Olly Reeves, sixteen. Again, I totally think that all teenagers share bits of the same brain. I am basically thinking what these teenagers are all saying. All teenagers are thinking what some are saying.
If adults could come to their senses, they would realize that they were once our age too. They went through the same concerns, the same doubts, the same angry fits. This parent vs. child battle is the best scenario to exemplify why experience is the best teacher.
Teens are not always intentionally disobedient. We are growing, we are seeing, and we are learning. We have enough to worry about without worrying about pleasing our parents too. I say this with full confidence- many parents will deny being overprotective. But it is basically woven in their instincts. So to all parents, I just have two words- “Let go.” It might be difficult, but we all have to learn to do things that are initially difficult for us. It is an exam given to us by life- some adults pass, and some fail. This exam tests open-mindedness and acceptance.
Baby steps- certainly. Start by allowing your teen to make more decisions by himself or herself. Bigger decisions. Let them have their independence. Sit down with them sometimes to catch up with their lives. But let them be free. Let them earn your trust, and try to earn theirs.
Parents have to give growing children some distance to ensure eternal bonds. Because honestly, believe me, I say this as a teenager myself- once you start growing apart from your child, there is no turning back. The pressure on teens is too much for them to remain closed up and always have the same friends. Needs change, friends change, perspectives change. In short, everyone and everything changes.
I won’t plead with parents. I trust the judgement of my parents and also all adults. I am confident that they know what’s best for me.
Today, I speak as the voice of all teens. We are growing. We need space, freedom, and trust to grow. If we have all of that, plus lots of love, we might grow to be the best generation the world has ever seen.