Feeling Lost : The Teenage Years
– Extract from a talk by Sri Sri Ravishankar
Teen-age years are the most confusing years. You are no more a kid who can be pacified with toys and sweets, but you have also not matured enough in emotional terms. A new world has just opened up in front of you and it is such a difficult time. On one hand, there are big highs! On the other hand, there are so many lows including loneliness. A child doesn’t feel lonely, but a teenager does. Not only that, there are also so many hormonal changes taking place in the body of a teenager. He/she is becoming familiar with his/her own body, mind, emotions, urges and difficulties. Suddenly teenagers begin to feel that nobody understands them because what parents say from their standpoint as parents – good or bad – doesn’t appeal to them. Long-term plans don’t exist. Teenagers want immediate solutions, immediate gratification, immediate, immediate. Everything should happen now! Instantly! Teenagers feel that adults do not understand them. And on the other hand, they can’t connect with small kids either. They have reached a stage where they find all the toys, all the simple games that they have outgrown, meaningless.
During these complicated years, teenagers need to have hope. They need to develop an understanding about life; what they want to do, how to cope with their wants. There is an old saying in Sanskrit: Then your son or daughter turns sixteen, behave with them like a friend. Don’t be their teachers; don’t tell them what to do or what not to do. Just share their difficulties with them. Be a friend to them; a friend who is at their level. A friend understands them, moves with them, empathises with their emotions and difficulties. If you relate as a friend with them and not as a parent, they will open up to you.
Usually teenagers open up to their friends much more than to their parents; it is a common phenomenon. This also goes for teachers. A teacher should also be a friend – should behave as a friend, talk as a friend. Then the gap gets bridged. Once the gap is bridged, love flows; communication happens. And once communication happens, virtually all the problems are solved. The biggest problem is lack of communication.