The day the child realizes that all adults are imperfect, he becomes an adolescent; the day he forgives them, he becomes an adult; the day he forgives himself, he becomes wise… Alden Nowlan
India is called a young nation today because every third person in an Indian city is a youth who is eager to learn, advance and elevate. We all know that as per the laws of nature we live our lives through various stages such as infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and old age. Of these life stages, the most adventurous and interesting stage is adolescence which represents an inner emotional upheaval, a struggle between the eternal human wish to cling to the past and the equally powerful wish to get on with the future.
It’s indeed a very critical phase in the life of every human being because, in this phase, there is intense growth not only physically but also morally, cognitively, emotionally and intellectually. Hence, in this stage of life, it is quite essential that parents or elders or peers provide adolescents with proper guidance, support and create an environment to facilitate their holistic development.
For the majority of adolescents, there is nothing in the world more embarrassing than their parents. Sounds funny!! But it’s true because there is something like “Generation Gap” which is experienced by every youngster all over the world. But the funnier thing is that adolescents keep trying hard to make it among the adults in the world, who somehow are probably not sure about themselves. However, in spite all these silly behaviour, it has been observed that contrary to the common perception about adolescents, they are often energetic, thoughtful, and idealistic and have a deep interest in values of life & they are full of optimism, hope and positive outlook. But! the only disadvantage that they have is lack of experience and hence they are deceived easily by way of getting diverted to wrong and destructive ways.
The primary goal of every adolescent is to achieve complete independence, for which they often seek a lot of space and freedom. They start to think more rationally and abstractly as they form their moral code. In the process, they may often become assertive, rebellious, nonconformist, sell-opinionated and aloof. Therefore, they need to be guided and supported with great sensitivity and maturity. In order to attain a well-integrated maturity, a series of factors need to be addressed for adolescents, like they need to acquire self-certainty, be ready to try out new roles, strive for achievement, acquire a self-identity, balance their rights with responsibilities and identify personal goals and ideals. One should understand that while dealing with the problems of adolescents, one should try and step into the young person’s world and treat them with discerning respect rather than suspicion. It always helps when we share their joys and sorrows and genuinely address their questions whilst engaging them in moral and spiritual discipline.
Today the need of the hour is that parents should deal with their adolescent children in a way that promotes their general well-being and development which is inclusive of the spiritual dimension. This is mainly because spirituality integrates the emotional, cognitive and intuitive self & help information of a personal spiritual belief and principles, attitudes and emotions as per one’s value system.
It is so unfortunate that the informative stage of adolescence when children need a strong sense of direction & guidance, there is no source for them to get it. This is because religion today has been reduced to a superficially practised set of rituals. The family is no longer the strong institution it used to be; parents hardly have time to spend with their children. The educational institutes are primarily concerned with teaching professional skills without attending to the need to impart values and strengthen the character of youth. Hence, under this scenario, adolescents try to find support from other means such as their peer group, TV, books etc.
It need not be elaborated here as to what kind of guidance and values are being given through these media. We all know very well that most of the awful fare churned out by the entertainment and media industry is mainly targeted at the youth whose impressionable minds become a fertile ground for spawning vicious tendencies and irrational ideas. Tempted by the glamour and gloss that is promoted by the media, there is a constant conflict that adolescents go through in order to measure up to their peer group’s values and to cope up with the ideals and the reality of life. Unfortunately, in the absence of proper guidance, it is but natural that many adolescents are pulled to crime, abuse and drug addiction.
While family, educational institutions and social groups do have a major role to play in guiding and supporting adolescents, spirituality lends a deeper and stronger basis for forming a clear identity and value system upon which the edifice of a strong character can be raised. Spirituality empowers a person to lead a value-based lifestyle & helps him/her to understand the purpose of life and guides them towards fulfilling it through well-developed intellectual, moral and emotional qualities. It provides the highest benchmark for formulating codes of conduct and for performing the best actions. It facilitates the holistic development of a person and integrates moral, mental and emotional faculties into a well-balanced personality. Since spirituality touches on the core goodness of every human being, it is the most potent tool for guiding all sections of society. As per a spiritual perspective, all individuals have the potential to perform the best actions and every person has some speciality that needs to be shared with others.
The process of empowering adolescents begins with this practice of treating them with respect and facilitating their growth in such a way that they are able to realise their hidden potential. So, instead of looking at them as helpless or ignorant beings who need to be chastised and controlled, spiritual treatment calls for accepting them as potential carriers of higher wisdom, pure values, fresh ideas and skills that need to be channelized in the proper direction. Such a growth process is driven from their inner self, gently guided by wisdom and love rather than a forced development compelled by insecurity, fear and false expectations. Remember !! If adolescents are motivated to explore spirituality at their age they will be equipped with excellent powers to cope with any situation of life as well as to excel in their chosen roles, thereby living a quality life.