Thursday, January 22, 2009

Are Your Expectations Too High for your Young Person?

The Princess Bitchface Syndrome (Penguin Books, 2006) by Dr. Michael Carr-Gregg highlights the modern day phenomenon that many teen girls and their parents experience these days; one minute she’s normal, quiet, loving, the girl-next-door; the next, someone totally estranged to logic and reason--Princess Bitchface, in one phrase. Hormones, we know, are the chiefly to blame as these girls grapple with their transforming bodies and minds in an age where they're often ‘sexualised’ prematurely[1] .

Without going into Carr-Gregg’s book I wanted to just highlight something very simply for parents.

I’m reminded of the vast differences between young people in general (not just girls), and those more mature, say in their 30s, 40s and 50s and beyond i.e. parents. It is too easy (and unfair) for mature adults to place the same adult demands on young people.

For these reasons, they’re set up to fail--and fail they shall if we do not help them.

Young people face the awkward and confusing proposition of being trapped as children, part of the time, in an adult world they can’t avoid, which is screaming toward them.

Carr-Gregg was interviewed for Life at 15 and mentioned that teens have four things “they have to do… they have to figure out who they are--get an identity; get themselves good friends; have some kind of emancipation from their mums and dads… and they have to connect with an educational institution.”[2] The first three are critically important to their happiness and (also the fourth to their) eventual success in life.

It seems untenable to some adults to apply a relationship-rich, grace-first ‘light’ hold on their relationships with their young people.

I believe we must slowly and carefully release the responsibilities on our young people whilst giving them the freedom to explore and ‘become’ their true selves as indicated in the Carr-Gregg quote above.

This is best done without niggly adults interrupting the flow of their development with silly details that would trip anyone up (including adults). We need to keep them accountable by all means, but we need also to know when enough’s enough.

We adults, if we cast our memories back far enough, might be embarrassed to discover we too struggled at this time of life with many things. Why would we now not seek to empathise with, and empower, our young people? We can make this transition so much easier in our loving approach.

We have to be ‘grown up’ enough to not be threatened by our kids wanting freedom without responsibility--which is a natural psychological drive. It’s a fine line, but we need to err on the side of grace. They will learn so much more from our loving, caring, affirming way than from criticism, constant negative feedback, and condemnation.

Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
[1] Refer to Carr-Gregg’s book which goes into the meaning and context of this term.
[2] Source:

No comments: