Thursday, September 29, 2016

The pangs of growing up...

I started writing this as a comment to a blog post by a very dear friend of mine, and then realized, it may be worth pondering upon in this blog, so that I can come back to it at some point of time later in life, and validate/repudiate parenting decisions, as the children grow up...Am I not glad that the kids are years away from adolescence now!:)

What triggered this note is this article on ‘Girls and their frenemies'...I couldn't agree more that as kids grow up, both boys and girls, it is absolutely essential to educate them on how to protect themselves and help protect others in the context of all the things/scenarios the article mentions. Though the article focusses on the need to educate girls, I am sure most of us agree that it is equally important to educate our boys...we need to talk to them about being comfortable in their own skin... about respecting others and their beliefs, while learning to stand up for one's own ...about dignity of them develop them develop honest communication mechanisms...teach them to be assertive when needed, help them develop self-compassion, a positive relationship with their body, talk to them about the importance of standing up to bullying and not  resorting to bullying...teach them the importance of being able to say no, the importance of not ending up being just people to them about sex, paedophiles, good touch, bad touch, on-line grooming, sexting, the harm caused by drug use, alcohol use, pornography...and who knows what other demons may be added to this already long list of things to protect oneself from in the adolescent years of our children.

What got me thinking though is what the article mentions as the  more likely destructive influence on an adolescent girl’s day to day life(boys are really fortunate if they don't have to deal with this...I am not completely sure that's indeed the case, though ..but oh well)...Coming back to the article, it mentions that the  more likely destructive influence on an adolescent girl’s day to day life is the damage girls do to one another in their friendship/peer groups...the article calls it 'relational aggression'. I believe it requires a lot of caution when talking to adolescent children about this...for
there is a very thin line between teaching our children to protect themselves from relational aggression vs teaching  them  to learn to assert themselves, compromise and set boundaries in relationships/friendships...or are both these really the same thing...I, for one, am not sure..

As far as relational aggression, as defined by the article is concerned, I wonder what was really different when WE were growing up…looking back and when I think about it now, I am sure I have had a fair share of interactions with frenemies, upstanders, supporters and distractors(as defined in the article)...I have memories of myself standing up for friends, who I believed, were not being treated fairly...I have memories of not standing up for folks, whose ideals did not conform with my own ...funnily enough those ideals themselves have evolved over time...I also have memories of friends standing up for me...and those that didn't...I continue to learn in relationships and friendships in this 35+ years of life...

So here's the thing, even without being proactively talked to by teachers or parents about "relational aggression", I did eventually end up developing mechanisms to deal with different people, as I grew up, learning to minimize the hurt that one is capable of feeling in so many instances and maximizing the bliss that friendships can potentially bring in…you know what I mean ... I have to admit most of the lessons were learnt the tough way and the learning never really stops...sometimes there is just no easy way of learning these life lessons...but the point I am trying to make here is, by not being proactively made aware of concepts like "relational aggression"(as defined in the article),
when I was still an adolescent, cynicism stayed out from my life for the longest possible time...I feel I had a fair chance at building and developing  friendships, that go on to become parts of a lifelong support system...

Now coming to the generation, that has the privilege of growing up to become adolescents in this technology 'infested', fast moving, incredibly fast growing , competitive and increasingly complicated  21st century...I wonder, how important it  is for adolescents to learn these lessons(like "relational aggression") proactively...wouldn’t it make them cynical in relationships and friendships, that for all you know have the potential to become a part of a lifelong support system...or is it that the potential bruises of learning lessons the hard way and the repercussions thereafter, in this context, is a much, much bigger risk than potentially losing out on building a lifelong friendship/relationship?

I, for one, don't have an answer and  I am glad that our kids are years away from adolescence ...and that gives us the time to hopefully figure this out in time... to make a right decision for them. you?

Something to ponder about...
Happy Thursday folks!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very well written Chintu.