A few years ago, I was with a saintly man. He heads one of the largest Pyramid foundations in India. While in gatherings with him, I found him often shouting at people who asked him “what is love? He would shun the word “Love”. I too asked him several times and got a pen thrown at me and he once even lifted a chair and acted as if he is going to beat me with it. Such was the act he put on when people spoke of love. I did not understand why he shunned this word!
May girls in their teens or mid twenties have been consulting with me. Most of them come seeking help to resolve their love stories. These girls have their experiences with romantic love.
During my conversations with them, I understood the substratum of their romantic love experiences. This is how it all starts I believe.
What is Love?
This is a question which adolescents are after. When Adolescents ask their parents about love, parents, more than often, being to count the origin of the question. They begin nosing around wondering, who is behind this question! Who is this boy. Adolescents then begin to hesitate and try to find answers to this question. Adolescents then begin their journey of excitements and small pleasures with social media. It could be as simple as posting a selfie on Instagram. One of the girls parents got to know just by change at the right moment when an online friend of their daughter asked her to send a de-clothed photograph of herself. Adolescents are not aware of the dangers that lurk around them.
The word Love is not bad. Its usage and association simply isn’t right anymore. Love is often tagged away as lust and sex. Love doesn’t always have to be between and male body and a female body. Love is positioned in public domain as something that happens between two sexes. When children search for “Love Quotes”, they are mislead by social media into believing that you need to be “in love with someone”. When they are not aware and cautious, and in in appropriate or immature friends’ company, they can get the sort of influence they don’t need. This becomes their first small step to their unplanned disaster.
My daughter loves reading novels. She’s been reading from when she was barely 6 years of age. As parents, we all support our children to engage in progressive reading. You can also called this age appropriate reading. As children reach adolescence, the novels that are available to them contain love stories, romantic love, stories of man seeking woman, man loving woman, and several variations of that type. Reading these kinds of novels misguide them to believe how their life must evolve. I remember one girl of 12 years who was reading books ahead of her age, was deeply unhappy because she did not have a boyfriend. Imagine a girl of 12 years needing therapy for being underage to have her own boyfriend! Its silly.
The choice of friends is very important. Swami Vivekananda said; Tell me who your friends are and I will tell you what your character is. It is true. Your friends influence you and you can’t even tell how your choices When our daughter became a 6th grader at school, some of her friends tried to influence her into watching some inappropriate content on the internet. She was quick to report the matter to her. We decided to act swiftly. From the 7th grade and on wards, we have been homeschooling her. WE have taught her about awareness and influence. It has become a tough journey for adolescents like never before.
Adolescence into Adulthood
As adolescents go away from their parents, they begin to explore life on their own terms and sometimes with their friends. Either way, they tread uncharted territory and without an experienced hand. I have seen, more often, the women who have begun their experiments with love in early years, end up searching for a Soulmate, someone who understands them, who allows them to live their life on their own terms. The strands of their relationships are already strained and worn out from their previous experiences of love and romance.
Most of the women in their mid twenties whom I have spoken to have admitted that they have had physical relationships before they have completed 21 years of age. Their parents have no knowledge about it. Some of the women are casual about it too.
What parents can do about it
The saintly man was right. Love is projected so out of its place that using the word today is perceived as something different by the ones who listen to you.
As parents, we must be responsive to our adolescent children’s demand for love and attention. Adolescents want parents to be good listeners and not good talkers. Parents often judge more and listen less. Adolescent children often speak less and express more through their body language. They give out signs which parents must observe.
Keep a watch on your adolescent children’s activities without policing around them. Your adolescent children are okay when you watch from a distance without questioning them. They get nasty when you become too with your investigation.
You may doubt your adolescent children’s moves. Yet, you must know when to pull your adolescent children back from an experience. That is where your adolescent children will know that they need to be more trusting in you. Your doubt in your adolescent children’s motive does not have to stop you from loving them. Your love for your adolescent children can save them from taking that one more step which might be their unplanned big disaster.
There are countless other ways to prepare your adolescent children for their big life ahead. Do share your views.