Aside from the problems that occur because of adolescent rebellion, there are difficulties that arise purely from the tumultuous change that is going on within the adolescent mind and body. Girls and boys suddenly discover each other in a new light, and schoolwork may suffer, A boy may find the brunette across the aisle infinitely more
interesting to look at than the geometry problem on the blackboard, and all the teacher’s efforts may do little to change that. The girl who never minded helping to clean the house on Saturday afternoons now may find it vastly more important to spend that time primping for the evening.
While parents and school authorities rightfully may insist on the maintenance of reasonable responsibilities, they often may find that they are up against something that even the adolescent himself can’t control. The half-child half-adult they are facing is often unable to live up even to his own standards, much less those of others.
More than ever before, teen-age boys and girls are ready to discover each other as sexual beings, to be together sharing mutual aspirations, feelings, needs, and trusts.
In many instances there are emotional problems that may trouble a teen-ager and can make him difficult to deal with. Sometimes these problems may seem very minor to adults, but nevertheless will take on overwhelming proportions for the adolescent. A boy who is troubled by acne, for example, or a girl who feels that her breasts are insufficiently developed to make her attractive, will not be comforted by parents’ reassurances that the “defect” isn’t noticeable, or that everything will be all right in a year or two. Emotional reactions to problems such as these may prevent a teen-age child from doing well academically or socially, and may cause him to act in a way that will produce friction in the household. Some teen-agers may become aggressive and argumentative; others may withdraw into silence and solitude.
In dealing with problems such as these, the parents must realize that as difficult as the situation is for them, it is at least equally difficult for the child. However, even the most understanding parents may be unable to cope with a teen-ager all the time, and the close relationship itself sometimes makes communication difficult. Sometimes, too, the teen-ager’s emotional problem may be deeper than can be handled by any parent. In these cases the parents always would be well advised to seek assistance from a family. doctor or a psychologist, in order to help prevent the child’s disturbance from causing any lasting harm. Adolescence is a period of intense inner storm and stress for even the most seemingly mature young person, and parents alone cannot expect to have all the answers.