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Life is never easy. There are different challenges that people have to face in order to ensure that they live meaningful and happy lives in the context of the community and society where they belong to. Ever person experience various problems in various areas of life—personal, emotional, relationships, in the area of politics, finances and even in the general society. Without an anchor and a willingness to face these problems, inpiduals may be overcome with these problems and take the life out of them figuratively and literally. Most of early life is spent inside the classroom, trying to learn about strategies and tools in making a living, respecting other people and learning how to live with others in the society.
But the learning process does not start in the classroom. It starts with the family. As such, the role of the father and of the mother is very necessary in the formation of an inpidual. Given the porce rate, however, the concept of the traditional family already belongs to history. This is not to say that porce is entirely wrong. It is just that porce has undermined the model of the traditional family and an effective means of raising teenagers in the society should be identified.
Indeed, how can a family start educating a young person in the messy business of living a life and weathering the storms that life brings? A customary glance at the various issues plaguing the world will reveal that there are hundreds of things that a loving parent may fear for his or her child: drugs, prostitution, HIV and AIDS, gang and fraternity wars, unwanted pregnancy, and terrorism among others I have been afraid of the prospect of dealing with teenagers but I have realized that given the appropriate skills in critical thinking and applying them, there is no need to fear but taking the risk of parenting and preparing teenagers will be more worthwhile.
It is so easy to look at teenagers and construct stereotypes about them. At first, I used to look at teenagers through my own preconceived notions. Teenagers were irresponsible and utterly conscious of their image. But this is not an accurate view of them. Rather, it is important to set aside the hype and stereotypes promoted by media and instead observe teenagers and be with them in order to be able to truly understand them. In order to effectively deal with them consulting the ideas of various authors who are considered experts in their fields is also be a good way to gather tips and suggestions on how to deal with teenagers. The assumption is that, just like adults and other people, in general, there are various strategies that may be arrived at in order to teach teenagers and prepare them for life. By being with teenagers and by talking with them and reading studies about them, I arrived at a better understanding of what they need and put this understanding side by side with what I believe are the solutions to how they can be prepared for this life.
One of the most famous quotations came from Socrates—“the unexamined life is not worth living.” Yet, there are already a great deal of distractions—responsibilities in the school, movies, TV series, holidays, video games and everything that the Internet offers that take away time for self-examination and contemplation. Yet, one of the important things to do for any person who seeks to live a good life is contemplation. However, how can teenagers be induced to do that? This is one big question, but given a good relationship and a good strategy in reaching them out, it can be done (Riera, 2004).
Stephen Covey (2004) in his very influential book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, he provided seven tips or habits that can help a person become effective and enhance the quality of his life. Several lessons from the pages of his book leap out of the pages as great reminders in living out life in this crazy world. The relevant lessons are discussed below.
Being Proactive. He begins by saying that we have the power to act on our circumstances instead of being acted upon. As such, an effective person needs to be proactive. This means that a person should establish a personal vision and work that out no matter what the circumstances say. In the words of Spiderman, there is always a choice. For young people, this means that they should learn how to detect when they are being manipulated toward certain ends such as buying beauty products or the latest gadgets or mobile phones. By being critical, they can begin choosing their own destiny.
Begin with the End in Mind. Any person who knows what he wants is powerful. Thus, if one imagines the end of his life, then he or she can already work towards that end. However, in our society at this time, great deal of people are simply moving as if they are just living for the day. Carpe diem indeed! However, it should not be forgotten that every day adds up to a week, weeks into months, months into years, and years into a lifetime.
When this lesson is grasped by teenagers, young as they are, they can begin to dream the life that they want to live and at the same time device strategies on how they can fulfill that.
Put First Things First. The problem with society is with its focus on instant gratification. By putting first things first, teenagers will begin to realize that there are several things that must be done before they can advance to the next level. One of the great lessons here is the development of discipline. Without which, people will be simply meandering without any purpose in mind. This also helps them keep to the path they have chosen for themselves.
Sharpen the Saw. Life is also a never-ending series of learning opportunities. As long as there are experiences, the process of learning never stops. However, the greater majority of people choose to stick to their long-held beliefs even if the times have already changed and new ideas and new ways of doing things are called for. Many teenagers are tempted to view education as a bore and given a choice between partying and school, they would choose the latter without batting an eyelash.
Dealing with teenagers is a challenging business. For one, they do not want to be dictated upon and they would want to explore the world by themselves if they can help it. But since they cannot, then the parents and other concerned adults should be there for them in order to provide guidance and protection. Although parents and other adults readily give their support and protection, there are still teenagers that want to have their way. How can adults then reach out to them?
Begin by discovering their interests. By showing that their interests are valid ones and that they can enjoy safe and wholesome hobbies and pursuits, they will accept somebody older as an insider and will become privy to their lives. When they share experiences together, they begin to unload and share their dreams, their passions, their struggles and problems to the adult, who has become a trusted mentor (Leman, 2005).
Experience, especially failure and mistakes, is a good teacher. Yes, indeed! But learning is also enhanced when bad experiences belong to someone else. Teenagers do not want teachers that are perfect. When they see a person who struggles with his flaws yet does not give up, it is a powerful testimony for them to go on with their dreams and aspirations. This becomes more effective than a teacher in front of the classroom spewing out generic words to a room full of teenagers. The experience of a person who has been through their own struggles therefore becomes very appealing to them (Leman, 2005).
Provide guidance and not control. Parents and adults can easily become control freaks who dictate the behavior and life direction of teenagers. Such an approach, however, is detrimental to the independence and to the sense of initiative of teenagers. As such, the approach needs to be the provision of guidance, consistent follow-up and conversations instead of the giving of orders. When the points of view of teenagers are heard, they are also more inclined to listen to other points of view. Another important effect of providing guidance as opposed to giving orders is that teenagers become to be more responsible for their actions. When they are just following orders, it would be easier for them to blame others for the choices and actions that they make (Wolf, 2002).
Being a parent, a guardian, a teacher and a mentor of teenagers in today’s world is a different and challenging task. However, the own struggles and challenges faced by teenagers should never be forgotten. These need to be subjected to critical thinking. Assumptions should be checked, as well as fallacies and biases that might cloud one’s judgments. It is always important to ask questions, probe the questions further and check if they really correspond with truth and facts. Only after arriving at this understanding can solutions be presented.
There are three more important matters that need to be learned by teenagers. One is commitment. If teenagers learn the true meaning of commitment and they stand up for whatever they commit to, they will be on a better road. In addition to commitment is responsibility. They should always keep in mind that everything that they do is fraught with consequences and that the effects of the consequences of their actions can sometimes last for a lifetime. Lastly, they should learn accountability. When they learn that they have to account for their action, they would not be so impulsive and so controlled by their circumstances.
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