Adolescents & Problems

Adolescents & Problems

by Ana Maria Navarro

Ana Maria is a wife and mother who teaches at the University of Navarre. This article is taken from and is used with permission. There are many excellent articles on parenting and marriage available at this website.

Adolescence is a difficult time in the lives of young people both for themselves and their educators, parents and teachers. This period is normally associated with conflict, turmoil and tension. It is common for parents to be “de-mythologized in this period. The mass media plays an important role in this and also the so called drive for freedom without responsibility.


Adolescents accuse adults of:

On the other hand, adults accuse adolescents of:

  • Not giving them freedom
  • Oppression
  • Consumerism
  • Authoritarianism
  • Irresponsibility
  • Corruption in politics, – etc.
  • Irresponsibility
  • Inconsistency
  • Destructiveness
  • Impracticality
  • Utopian idealism leading nowhere
  • Viewing today without reference to the past or the future.


The result of this situation is a crisis of authority, which would not exist if there were: mutual acceptance based on respect; confidence; trust and understanding. Who suffers most? The adult suffers most because he or she is more mature and more conscious.

What do parents do? And what should they do in this conflict?


Parents Normally Do

Parents Should Do

  • Sermonize
  • Speak chapters
  • Silence
  • Wisdom commences when followed by listening
  • Insult
  • Hurt
  • Moralize
  • Speak with prudence even annoyed
  • Praise or criticize in general
  • Praise or criticize the action not the person. Speak in a constructive way
  • Mix truths and betray loyalties
  • Be honest and loyal with the words used
  • Be too frank
  • Be frank but do not offend. Speak clearly because rarely are you understood
  • Make future predictions
  • Stick to the present.
  • Speak in front of others
  • Speak privately
  • Ask too many questions
  • Ask why?
  • Refer to anecdotes and let the adolescent makes his deductions
  • When a 3rd party complains to support the third party
  • Defend the adolescent
  • Think too much or too little answer
  • Reflect enough to give a natural answer
  • Concede a lot
  • Demand the essential
  • Make them feel dependent
  • Make them sure of themselves
  • Distrust
  • Learn to experience the present failure with confidence in the final triumph
  • Develop feelings of guilt:

“You have cost us”.

  • Let them value personal effort
  • Focus on defects
  • Make virtue agreeable and attractive


What about the Parents then?

And eastern proverb suggests: “Tranquility before the inevitable and await change” but this is not enough. Parents should also know the positive side of the confrontation, crisis of their adolescent children and up to a certain point adapt themselves accordingly. If instability and contradiction occurs in the adolescents, they should concede or demand as befits in such moments, exercising to the limit, the virtue of flexibility (serenity).

Never concede out of fear of provoking a conflict situation. If you do concede when an adolescent makes excessive demands in an aggressive tone, conflict is already there both from and in the adolescent. One can be tempted to be drawn to an indiscriminate concession by the manipulative force of the environment in which we live. To behave serenely in a conflict situation is the best defense for parents. Show the truth of the various criteria, which accompany a correct focus of personal life and behavior.

Try to guide and to have this guidance accepted. Adolescents have more respect for authority than they indicate. They do not tolerate “pushover” parents easily.

What can be done?

Every adolescent has strengths and weaknesses: qualities; defects; limitations. Use these qualities and put them into action but in what? What characteristics have adolescents? Dreaming; idealism; show off behavior; contradictory action; dogmatic manners; intransigence; black or white understanding; intolerance and tolerance at the same time; impatience.

Link dreams with activity: work; study; social work; sport; cultural activity; this will open them to other people and to use their time well. If they do not use their creative spirit in activity, they apply it to things that can be destructive to them. Adolescents in conflict break all the rules without asking permission or pardon, but in the home some rules must be kept; adolescents or not. One must demand a lot from adolescents in small things, which will help to reduce demands and widen their choices from which certain levels of behavior are expected. For example behavior between boys and girls: from intimate relationships when alone to their behavior in public. Another example can be their respect for parents and educators; respect and care of things related to study, work and friends. Parents have to have a certain amount of authority to inform clearly and correctly about things and to guide and demand a correspondence in behavior.

What we have said is nothing more than knowing how to identify the information pertaining to a decision. Sometimes, it is difficult for parents to give information. They sometimes feel that it is necessary to encroach on the breathing space or intimacy of their teenagers; or to give too much information. Information should be clear; concise and concrete and then change the subject. It is more common that the adolescents are the ones who believe that their intimacy is encroached upon by being informed. They resist being informed above all when what is presented is a truth, which demands obligations. We have to show them therefore that they act dishonestly in resisting proper information.

What to do?

For various reasons there are moments when one cannot expect parents to be serene. If this happens, the parents possibly should look for help.

Who can help?

Tutor, friend, priest, some relative or a psychologist may be of help. They have to act as family counselors without getting caught up with the problem or without taking sides. They are referees not judges. At times it may be convenient to vary the person in order to avoid fixations and dependencies. At other times it may be good to combine persons and situations. No matter what the method, the family counselor in the beginning has to interview the parents and the adolescent separately and on subsequent occasions together. When the children are young enough, it is often sufficient in normal cases to counsel only the parents.


A positive environment is the only antidote to a negative environment. Many problems arise today, not through family relationships but through environmental influences, which fill the adolescents head and heart with contradictory values. Let the adolescent “hear, see and do.”

This could be the maxim for his counseling. Doing is implicitly understood in the intention to improve. It is not only important to use time well to avoid bad habits which effect others but also to give opportunities to gain self-confidence through personal success; personal efficiency in work; recognition of other people; and opportunity to benefit from these. Doing things will help the adolescent look for occasions to discover motives for personal struggle and self-improvement. This could get him sooner or later to decide about the sense and reason of his life. When this moment arrives, with or without external help. that the parents have recovered their adolescent.

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