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What if adolescence were a time to be trusted with more responsibilities?


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Edifa - published on 12/08/20

When we don't demand anything of our teens, we deprive them of the confidence they need to mature.

Adolescence is always analyzed from a problematic perspective, even to the point of validating the idea that nothing can be demanded of a teenager because they are in crisis. “It’s a time of crisis, it will pass” is a diagnosis that falls on the teenager and limits parents to being patient. However, does acknowledging their situation mean doing nothing? No, it means starting to help the adolescent to extract that inner strength, that vital impulse that resides in them — in short, to bring out the adult in them.

The adolescent must assume his or her responsibilities

“Our societies are themselves very infantile, they make us give little account of our responsibilities,” says child psychiatrist Didieux Pleux, author of De l’enfant roi à l’enfant tyran [From child king to child tyrant]. However, adolescents need us to have confidence in them. Not demanding anything of them is telling them that we have folded our arms and lost the confidence in them that they need to grow up.

Because we want to protect them so much, we keep them in a long-term phase of irresponsibility. Adolescent crisis, “midlife crisis” at 40 (with the extension of life expectancy, it comes later) … From crisis to crisis, the modern human being sees that they are granted permission to go off the road at low cost and an exceptional reduction of responsibility that ultimately turns against them. It is time to recognize our children’s right to be responsible, that is, to be accountable for their own actions. To be fully children, fully students, fully siblings, teenagers must assume their responsibilities. Like a husband before his wife or a mother before her children.

It is then a question of giving the adolescent age-appropriate responsibility. Through small daily tasks they build up confidence in themselves and in others. This is the experience of the older sister who holds the vulnerable hand of her little sister on their way to school, of the Scout leader who organizes a camp for the cubs … To deprive our teens of this is to take away the self-confidence that is vital for their growth. By following in the footsteps of their parents, they will become men and women. It is up to us to trust them.

Anne Gavini


Read more:
The 2020 Catholic Christmas Gift Guide for Teens

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