This is sadly the current scenario when it comes to the relationship between growing teenagers and parents. Parents certainly find it challenging to deal with the aggressive, intolerant, and defiant attitude and behaviour of their growing teens. Over a period of time, they start holding themselves responsible for their child's attitude and feel guilty of having failed in controlling the rebellious behaviour of their children. This can be really stressful for parents and can cause an atmosphere of tension and fear for the entire family. Things have gone so out of control that 'Help and Support' numbers have been launched by several organisations where parents can seek help and support in order to deal with their own unruly teens, their 'own children'.
What are the reasons for such extreme behaviours in teens, worsening generations after generations? Are the hormonal changes to be blamed for the overly aggressive behaviour in teens? Or is it the upbringing? Or is it the difficulty that teens face in adapting to the fickle and volatile competitive world?
To find answers to these questions, let's begin by understanding who actually is a 'Teenager'?
Teenagers are actually trapped in a limbo, neither children nor adults. Undoubtedly, they are a storehouse of potentials; but along with that they are too vulnerable. You will find them hanging in the extremes of mood, behaviour and attitude. One moment their behaviour is that of adults, while the next it is that of a not very bright child. This rapid oscillation between childhood and adulthood is one of the hallmarks of teenagers. Various studies conducted on the behavioural pattern of teenagers show that their faculties of understanding the environment and situation are still under construction. And this still maturing brain of teenagers gets easily and deeply impacted by the company they keep. Recent works from MRC unit at the Institute of Psychiatry testify the above statement. They have proved that it is not merely the hormones that determine the waywardness in teenagers but basically, the people they hang with. Who are the people a teenager comes in contact with– friends, family, classmates and teachers– is that all? The list became invalid long back with the arrival of the vast cyber world. Through the unrestrained access to the vast world of the Internet today, teenagers can be in the company of anyone sitting anywhere in the world! They can get easily impacted by various thoughts and views floating in the cyber space. Their opinions and values can be easily altered by the doctored visual stuff posted on the virtual world. We can even say that the values and ethics instilled in today's teenagers are not the real, Vedic ones transferred down the ages, but they are 'Virtual Values' grabbed by their immature brains from the malicious online content.
Studies reveal that because the brains of the teenagers are still undergoing changes, they find it difficult to assess the situation and the risk involved in it properly. They also find it difficult to recognise other's emotions. In order to protect them from the deprivation due to these natural deficiencies, great Vedic values were preached and practically instilled in children from a very young age in the ancient Gurukuls (schools in Vedic times). The enlightened masters in these Gurukuls very well understood this natural incompetency in growing teenagers and accordingly worked on them to carve out more tolerant, humble and composed personalities. Let us see this through an incidence mentioned in the Kathopanishad–
It goes back to the time when the father of Nachiketa (a perfect Aryan teenager, born and brought up on the sacred milk of Vedic culture) was distributing sick and old cows in alms to the needy. When Nachiketa saw this, his pure, inner conscience poked him again and again to go and ask his father as to why he was doing so. Why was he donating old and barren cattle in alms? When Nachiketa did so, his father got enraged and in sheer disgust, he yelled out– 'Unto Death do I give thee' (I give you to death).
Nachiketa was struck by the most unexpected development around him. In those times, the words of parents and Masters were not just words but considered an irrevocable command. When Nachiketa heard that his father has given him to 'Death', he didn't let his intellect get clouded or confused on the mere approach of a challenging situation. He didn't even let his emotions to play their wild pranks. He neither reacted in a maddening way nor let the ill feelings sprout in his heart against his father. He simply retired from the scene and went to a quiet place to ponder over and analyse the situation. He exhibited maturity in the true sense. Based on the Vedic values and code of Vedic ethics that he was taught, he decided to do exactly what his father commanded. What happened next is registered in the pages of the glorious history of the Vedic times. Nachiketa went to the Lord of Death and beseeched from him the greatest truth of life. He, thus, reached beyond death and established himself in blissful eternity.
If today you tell your teenager son/daughter to 'Go to Hell' or 'Just get out of my sight' or 'Get out of my house', the reaction you may get could be somewhat like mentioned in the beginning lines.
Therefore, the only way out that our teenagers do not take up a hasty step, or be nasty amidst challenging circumstances, or land up in any sort of trouble, or become stressful and fearful while countering the various situations of life through their still growing faculties of understanding is– 'they need to grow and be mature at the soul level'. This can only become possible in the company of an enlightened being (a Perfect Guru), who can bless them with the practical knowledge of the Self. This will eventually help them rise above their incompetent mental and intellectual faculties to the most competent level of the soul.
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