Understanding Teenagers through Their Perspective
I want to raise an interestingly gripping issue which has been pricking my mind since last four days. The focus of this piece is the problems encountered by children. Interestingly, I wouldn’t reflect upon them from my point of view but I would try to portray the perspective of the kids as they go through an everyday struggle of surviving in this ever changing and ever demanding, competitive world. Before I go further I would state my belief firmly, once again, that children are not all wrong. I find it painful when today’s generation is bluntly labeled as ‘undisciplined, disrespectful, and casual about their future and even present’. I have discussed this issue a number of times but every time a child does not do well, nobody tries to understand the factors behind the results but they bluntly put the responsibility on the child.
Let us look at the case of a plant. It doesn’t grow all by itself. There are a number of factors that contribute in its growth like the environment and extra supplements provided by the gardener. If plants grow well then it means that the environmental conditions were suitable and the gardener nurtured it well. But if it doesn’t grow well then does it mean that it was the fault of the plant? Should the plant be held responsible as it did not turn out well? This is my question to the parents and teachers and I seek an answer from them. I am compelled to raise this issue again because of the incidents that took place recently.
The first incident involves a student who was brought to my notice as he was misbehaving and was reluctant in paying attention and submitting notebooks on time. The response of the parents was also inadequate regarding the issue. When the parents were called to discuss the issue the mother cried helplessly and complained that the child manifests inappropriate behaviour even at home. The father even accepted that the child is given money as and when he demands. This is done only to make sure that he doesn’t get involved in unfair means to acquire money when denied for the same. Interestingly,the child had never done so (stolen money) in the past. During the entire discussion the parents kept on blaming the child exonerating themselves from any responsibility and emphasizing that they have been providing ‘everything’ the child needed. But in this what they are forgetting is that material gratification is never fulfilling.
The second incident includes teachers and shows them exhibiting the same behaviour as the parents did in the above mentioned incident. When a child shows misbehavior or is reluctant to study and perform in the classroom activities, a few teachers blame the children for their behavior without probing into the matter or finding out reasons for such behaviour. Well, in some classes the students were found not paying attention to the teachers and wasting time or putting their head down while the teacher was teaching. When the teachers were asked for an explanation they responded that these students simply don’t want to focus or study in the class. When they were asked that what kind of efforts were made on their part to motivate them to study, they responded that the students were persuaded verbally. When they were further questioned that has there been any change after the persuasion or any other efforts in this direction, the responses were inadequate and unconvincing. Rather, the blame was put on the children but at the same time the teachers admitted that these students who weren’t attentive were actually not bad in behaviour neither hopeless in studies. I will not elaborate more on this discussion and the teachers indirectly conveyed that there was no problem on their part and everything was wrong with the children only.
In these situations, I strongly agree and you will also agree with me that a child is like a plant. The parents and teachers play the role of gardeners. If the gardeners are able to provide right environment then these situations would never have arisen. Well, this has been a common practice on the part of many teachers and parents that they tend to take all the credit for good performance of the kids perform well but blame the kids solelyfor their failure or misbehavior. If 90% marks are achieved by students then most of the teachers convey it as their achievement but in case the child doesn’t do well, are these teachers ready to take the blame as gracefully and own the responsibility?
Based on these incidents and others that have occurred in recent past, I wonder that most teachers and parents blame children for their own incompetence and frustrations. This might be taken as a strong statement but to me it reflects the situation in pure honesty and I will be happy to be corrected if someone can prove me wrong.Justifications, rights and wrongs could be discussed endlessly but the fact remains that the children especially many teenagers are suffering more because of the incompetence of their teachers and parents than their own, not only in terms of their achievements but also in terms of the values and behaviour they exhibit on daily basis.
Many parents and teachers do not understand the problems of teenagers of the present generation. It came as a revelation to me when I was going through a compilation of articles, stories and poems written by students of age 14-20 years, creatively portraying, through literature, their experiences and understanding of being and struggling as a teenager. I would like to share a few excerpts from the book to bring to light the turmoil the teenagers go through and the frustration it brings when no one understands. One of the write ups in the book has these thought provoking lines, “This age(teenage) is a period before and after the partition, which makes it the most painful. You are stuck in between of everything, you are neither a child nor an adult, you neither have your own beliefs nor do you believe in the set norms of the society, you are a rebel but your cause is not clear”. The Poems “You Know What Hurts” and “A Nightmare” lay bare the struggles of the teenagers of the present times. In her poem, ‘You Know What Hurts”, Khushi Arora puts forth the problems of a teenager, “You know what hurts? It is in knowing that you’re connecting yourself to many temporary people, who are not at all going to make it to ‘forever’, no matter how hard they promise to, but you still expect them to stay. It’s knowing that you’ve started hating the word ‘expectations’ because your heart carries a unique sky of your own dreams, completely unknown to the world and its expectations and waiting to be fulfilled. It’s knowing that the people out there will never stop complaining and pointing out on you, even if you try to burn the candle at both ends”. Shipra Roy in her poem, ‘A Nightmare’, puts forth some serious burning questions and issues that teens face, “Was this really your choice to live in a world of abbreviations (IIT,IAS, IIM, etc.)? Or you were forced by them, who believe just in appreciations, He, like a cousin asked me 'hey, met someone? Are you drowned into depression, Because of your mere obsessions? Are those lollipops changing into cigarettes? Are those friendships turning into relationships?”They unapologetically portray the fact that today’s teens are going through more complexities which weren’t pestering the teens of the bygone generations. The perspective of and about the teenagers, put forth in this compilation by the teenagers, is more important to me than any other point of view on teens. It is because, ‘who can know the traumas of teenagers better than teenagers themselves’?The emotional turmoil depicted in the write ups was an eye opener. I used to feel that I knew about most of their problems but now I realize that I knew so little.
There is another important issue that needs to be pointed out in this context. Media exposure on the teens of today is explicit. Radio shows, television shows, Youtubers need to understand the everlasting effect they and their advice can create on an innocent heart. A conversation that I heard on the radio station was shocking. A 26 year old boy asked an RJ that what should he do about the irritating questions all the uncles and aunties ask him in the marriage functions and parties, in reference to when and how soon is he going to get married. The RJ advised him not to attend such gatherings and went on to the extent of suggesting that if he happens to meet these uncles and aunties in a funeral, he should comment that it’s their chance, next. This statement is not at all funny and is extremely derogatory and disrespectful towards elders. I don’t expect these people to be social reformers but how could she compare a happy occasion to something as heart wrenching as death? These statements could have extreme negative effects on the impressionable minds of the teenagers. This program was aired in the evening time when people travel from their work place to home and usually switch on radio.
Based on the issues discussed above I want to convey my point that each one of us should realize our role in shaping the future generation. I request the parents and teachers not to pass their incompetence and frustration on the children. Kids these days are facing problems that the previous generation didn’t experience. Let’s think in the light of this perspective. Parents and teachers will have to show tremendous faith and patience so the kids can trust them. These children are precious and can work wonders with proper guidance and trust that we need to attach to their choices and actions. They are our identity, so instead of blaming them only we need to correct ourselves also.