An American teenage lifestyle seems much more idealistic than that of third world country adolescents. However, growing up in modern day American society is a formidable obstacle and no joy ride. Pressure is everywhere. Whether it is peer, parent, or even self-inflicted pressure, it has a major impact on teenage life. Every kid is trying to reach higher and higher because of expectations placed upon them. These expectations can take many forms including being valedictorian, football quarterback, or fitting into a size zero pair of jeans.
How did the standard go from try your best to be perfect at everything you attempt? As the pressure level rises so does the amount of stress. Throughout the last fifteen years the number of teens abusing alcohol and/or drugs, cutting themselves, developing eating disorders and depression has been on the rise. When parents observe these behaviors in their own children they often lose their common sense in attempts to return their child to a healthy state of being. Parents will buy the child an expensive gift or take them on a luxurious vacation hoping it will imprint in the troubled child’s mind that they are loved and that they want them to recover. Some might even send the teen off to camp for the summer so when they return they will be “fixed.” By going to these extreme measures the most reasonable solutions and/or steps to recovery have been overlooked.
One of the hardest but simplest things a person can do in life is listen. Listening is your best tool at your disposal when dealing with an adolescent going through tough times. The teen has obviously not been able to express his or her needs easily or he or she would not be harming himself or herself When the adult trying to help the teen is doing the listening instead of the talking it makes it much easier for the teen to approach the adult with their problems. Even if the teen does not want to talk, just being there and sitting with him or her can be comforting. The presence of someone who cares is the best treatment for an emotionally unstable teen. In a time filled with loneliness a friend with an open mind and open ears is the most needed.
By listening more and talking less parents will have a better understanding of what the teen is going through. Through that process the parents and the teen will uncover the issues that have led the teen to the destructive behavior. By dealing with the issues that caused the teen to harm himself or herself, the teen has made the first step toward recovery. The process of finding the source and dealing with it will not be fast or simple, but at the end the family will be left with closeness and a positive outlook for times ahead. Listening is not a parent’s first instinct or idea on how to help their teen, but it truly will reap the most benefits in the long run.