Teenage Blues, Parenting Clues
Author- Anjaneya Mishra
Publisher- JAICO PUBLISHING HOUSE, Mumbai
ISBN: 13978-81-8495483-8 Price—Rs- 222/
While I was graduating from D.A.V Degree College Gorakhpur, my psychology teacher late Dr Shayma Krishna, while taking classes, was fond of quoting psychologist Elizabeth Hurlock who focused on psycho-socio-biological changes taking place during childhood and adolescence and the adjustments called for. Teenagers also called adolescents search for modes of new values, attitudes, and interests. Psychology of adolescence drives at explaining the characteristics of normal development process and differentiates it from abnormal situations while making not only the parents but also friends and young children aware about the difficulties and hazards involved during this stage. Being an intermediary stage between childhood and adulthood, it is the threshold to adulthood. Entering and crossing this threshold sets in motion a movement: physical, mental, emotional, social and sexual. Rapidly growing body is imbued with irritability, glumness, and emotional disequilibrium. Hormones, growth spurt and reproductive maturity are no doubt physical but they impact emotionally too. Some important emotions experienced by teenagers are those of love, fear, anger, worry, and jealousy. Good reason for Stanley Hall to call this stage full of ‘storm and stress’. Amidst this ‘storm and stress’, the teenagers seek self-identity.
The book Teenage Blues, Parenting Clues by young author Anjaneya Mishra is a tale about teenagers. It has fifteen chapters with an epilogue and a questionnaire. At the very outset, the author admits, ‘this book is my humble attempt to help parents deal with the most difficult and demanding time in parenthood: rearing of a teenager.’ In the prelude, Anjaneya writes, ‘…. a child slowly emerges from his cocooned existence, his brain evolves and he learns to form personal view of his world. In his own way, he yearns to go out into the world and be treated as a thinking individual whose decisions should be respected not summarily dismissed.’ The author, thus, in the very beginning harps on the complexity of transitional period which he feels and rightly so is developmentally distinct from childhood. He hints at two main components of a teenager’s aspirations: a psychological need of recognition arising within the child and a frustrating environmental situation which he/she may be unable to cope with, in case their world view is ‘summarily dismissed.’
Then he talks about ‘Peer-pressure’ brought to a teenager by his friends and may be foes. ‘Friends just happen without conscious thought or effort.’ Emotional bonds tend to develop among friends which is a natural process. Author has a sane advice for parents of teenagers. ‘….once your child becomes a teen, the rules of the game change.’ ‘Shrewd thinking’ on parts of parents becomes a must. Author emphasizes on the need on behalf of parents to ‘feel his feel’ without being critical or judgmental. Peer pressure plays an important role in teenagers’ life. Teenagers have difficulty in adjusting to the needs and demands of parents and peer group standards resulting in problems of varying kind and dimensions. Anjaneya drives home the point how parents, school and society have to share joint responsibility for the desirable growth and development of teenagers.
He also ponders over in the chapter titled- Values and Ethics, philosophical issues like, ‘Sometimes I wonder what values we are imbibing. In this materialistic and consumerist culture, are we losing our moral fiber?’ How to carry across the ideas of moral fiber and values to teenagers? Author offers this solution: for penetrating into the recesses of the teenage mind, timing has got to be very important. By instilling trust and confidence in sons/daughters, ‘you will evoke a lifetime of respect, support and loyalty.’ Further if you are not able to keep your promise made to your son, (for instance, taking him for a football on weekend) the best way is, ‘to apologize to your son and promise to go for a match some other day.’ Teenagers should not be pushed into believing that their parents, teachers and society have poor opinion about them. Such an inculcated belief will make the transition into further development of teenagers difficult. Such a belief invariably leads to much incoherence thereby placing a barrier between them and their elders. In such scenarios, teenagers will not turn to their parents for help in solving their problems. Problem solving is a key area for a teenager.
In another interesting chapter: Mirror Mirror on the Wall, author talks about the utility versus the futility of what he calls, ‘looking hot.’ Having surveyed the journey teenagers undergo in order to look better looking, a conclusion is faced- ‘the really beautiful are those who are comfortable in their own skin.’ Uselessness of reckless spending by teenagers forces the author to wonder ‘What if there are no mirrors in the world?’ Indeed a grave question. There are situations which frustrate teenagers and hence are painful. The world seems strange and new. Teenagers awake to a new order and understands neither it nor themselves. Mirrors aggravate such pains, for mirrors ward of reality.
Anjaneya’s maiden book is very fruitful and crucial attempt to throw light on, to use Fredrick Tracy words, ‘more complex emotions such as, administration, awe, reverence, gratitude, scorn, contempt, hatred, joy, grief, pity, shame, as well as aesthetic feelings and the sentiments of moral approval and disapproval.” Perhaps the most important problem of teenagers is their individual experiences. The teenagers feel that they are no more children, at the same time they feel that they are not granted the status of adulthood. This is due to the experiences growing out of the treatment meted out to them by their parents and other members of the society. This state of affairs is central to this phase of development and is responsible for the “Storm and Stress”. This book is about how to handle such storms and stresses when old moorings seem to be broken routinely and a higher level of existence shaping into being. A must read for parents, teachers, and teenagers, of course.
K.K. Srivastava is an Indian Civil Servant, writer and literary critic.