There is an old saying in Sanskrit: ‘When your son or daughter turns sixteen, behave with them like a friend’. Don’t be their teachers; don’t tell them what to do or what not to do. Just share their difficulties with them. Be a friend to them; a friend who is at their level. A friend understands them, moves with them, empathises with their emotions and difficulties. If you relate as a friend with them and not as a parent, they will open up to you.
Usually teenagers open up to their friends much more than to their parents; it’s a common phenomenon. This also goes for teachers. A teacher should also be a friend – should behave as a friend, talk as a friend. Then the gap gets bridged. Once the gap is bridged, love flows; communication happens. And once communication happens, virtually all the problems are solved. The biggest problem is lack of communication.
Recently a follower of Guruji Sr Sri Ravishankar, founder of the Art of Living, asked this question:
Q: Guruji how to handle a teenage child?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Teenagers, when you have to manage them, you should know how to ride a horse – neither too lose nor too tight! Some times you let it loose, sometimes you hold it tight. So keep a balance.
I believe this analogy strongly hits home the advice that Guruji wants to give parents. No further advice needs to be given to them. However, for teenagers, Guruji has something more to say. What follows below is a message by him to all teenagers:
Teen-age years are the most confusing years. You are no more a kid who can be pacified with toys and sweets, but you have also not matured enough in emotional terms. A new world has just opened up in front of you and it’s such a difficult time. On one hand, there are big highs! On the other hand, there are so many lows including loneliness. A child doesn’t feel lonely, but you do at times. Not only that, there are also so many hormonal changes taking place in your body. You become familiar with your own body, mind, emotions, urges and difficulties. Suddenly you begin to feel that nobody understands you because what parents say from their standpoint as parents – good or bad – doesn’t appeal to you. Long-term plans don’t exist. You want immediate solutions, immediate gratification, immediate, immediate… Everything should happen now! Instantly! You feel that adults do not understand you. And on the other hand, you can’t connect with small kids either. You have reached a stage where you find all the toys, all the simple games that you have outgrown, meaningless.
During these complicated years, you need to have hope. You need to develop an understanding about life; what you want to do, how to cope with your wants.
Dealing with emotions:
How to deal with our emotions? Big problem! Although we have grown older – beyond the ‘teenage’, we more often fail to grow beyond ‘teenage’ mentally. You know, our body grows in a particular sequence. In the first seven years, the physical body grows but the intellect does not grow; then up to fourteen years, the intellect grows. The period from 14 to 21 years is for emotional maturity. So the general belief is that you become physically mature, then intellectually mature and finally, you become emotionally mature.
However, many do not grow to that maturity at all. Lack of emotional maturity is always worrying about your emotions – feeling as though you are a victim of your own emotions: “Oh! I feel like this! I feel like that! What to do?” What will you do? Who cares about your feelings? Why do you worry so much about your feelings? Your feelings keep changing. Sometimes you feel bad; but the bad feeling doesn’t stay with you forever. It changes and you start feeling good once again; but even that ‘good’ feeling does not stay forever. Nobody can feel bad or good ALL the time; the good and bad feelings come like waves. You can’t stop a wave that has already arisen; nor can you make a wave rise just like that. Just as waves come and go, clouds come and go, so also emotions come and go. Waves of different emotion come. And they disappear. But we make it such a big issue: “Oh, I feel good! Oh, I feel bad! I feel this way, I feel that way, nobody cares for me…” – all these complaints keep bombarding our minds. This emotional garbage is so useless; and it is also a sign of emotional immaturity.
Emotional maturity, intellectual maturity, physical maturity; you need all these three ‘maturities’ to be a complete personality. Are you sharp and focused? Are you interested in learning and in growth? If yes, you have matured intellectually. And once you have matured intellectually, do not let emotional immaturity cloud your intellect. By the age of 21, you’re supposed to be emotionally and physically strong, and intellectually sharp. Hence, you acquire the right to vote, because you are supposed to be mature – an adult. But this seldom happens!
But what is the big deal about your feelings? I tell you, bundle them up and throw them into the ocean! Once you are rid of your ‘feelings’ you can be happy, in good spirits. Just examine why your spirits go down? More likely than not because somebody said something stupid to you. And why did they say a stupid thing? Because they had some garbage they needed to throw out; and you were there, ready to catch it. And once you have caught it, you hold on to it so passionately! Come on! Wake up! Don’t let your smile be snatched away by anybody!
In this world, everything cannot be perfect all the time. Even the best, the greatest of actions, performed with the noblest of intentions, will have some imperfections. It is but natural. Unfortunately, the tendency of our mind is to grab the imperfection and hold on to it. And in the process, we end up making our moods, our minds imperfect. Our souls reel with this nonsense.
It is imperative to get out of these cycles, and to become strong and courageous from within. And that which gives you that strength, that courage, that smile and that helps you to become unconditionally happy and loving is what is called spirituality.
Thanks to Guruji for bestowing more clarity on this crucial aspect of Life.
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