Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Teen Journey Stories - What I've Learned So Far

If you've been following my blog these past couple months, you may have noticed that I've included several stories about people's teenage life experience - what I call the "teen journey." It's the period of adolescence, which begins at puberty and ends in the early 20s - the all-important second half of growing up.

Prefrontal cortex in red area
The most important factor at that time of life is that the prefrontal cortex - the part of the brain that understands, analyzes, decides, and plans - begins and ends its development. This seat of human intellect is the main thing that separates us from all other animals, and is the main factor in whether an adult succeeds in life. Because it's "under construction," teenagers have a hard time using it. But they have to, or the foundation for critical thinking will be minimal for the rest of their lives. Use it or lose it.

This makes the teen journey difficult, dangerous and momentous. Which is why people's teen journey stories are so interesting to me. About a dozen people have shared their stories with me so far, and it's been fascinating. I've learned some things I didn't know...
  • No two stories are alike.
  • No matter what parents do, they have an enormous influence on what teens do and on their development into adults.
  • Few parents have good communication skills.
  • All teens need love from their parents; and if they don't get it, they seek it elsewhere.
  • While their kids' journeys are ongoing, parents are unaware that their kids are on these journeys, or what the journeys are like.
  • The journeys of siblings in a family are usually remarkably different.
  • Some teens grow up crippled for adult life because they never learned about hard work.
  • Teenagers are incapable of self-imposing discipline and structure, so they need this support from adults.
  • Luck is sometimes a factor - events out of a teen's control can happen in their favor.
  • Sometimes the cultural era in which the teen lived is a big influence.
To see these elements play out in people's lives, read some of the stories. I've posted several of them already. And stay tuned. There are more coming...

One thing you can do to make a huge difference in your teen's journey is to give him or her one of these "heads-up" books...

Conversations with the Wise Aunt - for girls

Conversations with the Wise Uncle - for boys

Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., Copyright 2011. Building Personal Strength . (Permission to use graphic purchased from fotolia.net)

1 comment:

Lisa said...

I have heard that before, this will be a relief for some. Just hope some parents will not become lazy.