Knowing oneself: a challenge for the adolescent

The teenager can not mature and be an adult if he can not to find oneself. Adolescents define the path of know yourself as the process they go through to mature and become the person they want to be. It's how they think about their future and the way they choose to get it.

The process of knowing oneself is complex. It is not just what profession or work they want, or if they want to get married or have children. The process of finding oneself is the basis for determining the answer to several questions. Adolescents have to determine, from their perspective, how to see life.

Questions for the knowledge of oneself

Some of the questions for which the teenager has to find answers to meet and know himself include:


- What is good and what is bad and how can I determine it?
- Is it worth to be honest, kind, patient ...?
- What is the function of love in my life?
- What is my own value?
- What value do others have?
- How is my life connected to the world and where is my site?

Obviously the questions are important and very philosophical. And, as parents, it may seem that teenagers do not have the ability to think about such complicated issues. Actually, the answer is yes and no. Teens can not think directly about these questions because they lack the life experience to understand their full meaning. But they are attracted to both the questions and the answers for their own development. Adolescents know intrinsically that these questions and their answers are obligatory to move in the process of finding themselves. They are fundamental for self-knowledge and for discovery.


Guides for teenagers who want to get to know each other

So, how are you learning the answers to these questions? Teens look for guides to teach them. These guides are people who have a relationship with the adolescent, such as parents, grandparents, uncles or older siblings. Also, the guides can be teachers, coaches, neighbors or other adults in your community. The guides have to have a reciprocal and more or less close relationship with the adolescent so that the relationship works. Movie stars, music or sports, a parent who is not present, or a relationship that is not reciprocal for any reason will not obtain the expected results for the adolescent in this process.

The role of the guide is to teach the adolescent how to answer the questions in an empirical way and in the context of real life. Adolescents go through the process of finding themselves in the company of their guides. The guides do not have to speak directly about what is good and what is bad because they show it with their behavior. The adolescent, in the context of his relationship with the guide, can see why this person is choosing to behave in this way.


For example, a teenager has chosen his father as a guide. The father loses his job. Normally the adolescent is not familiar with the consequences of a dismissal because he or she lacks the vital work experience. But in the context of the process of finding oneself, the adolescent is looking at the father to learn the answers to the questions from the father's experience. Some questions that you can apply to this example are: What is my own value? or how is my life connected to the world and where is my site?

With a watchful eye, the adolescent will evaluate what his father does, why he has chosen this behavior and how this behavior fits with what the adolescent thinks is right. Afterwards, the adolescent will incorporate the habits, behaviors, or ways he or she would like to use in his own life to overcome problems. It is possible that the adolescent will use the observed skills to face a bad exam, a problem at his school, or, in the future, his own dismissal at work.

For this reason, it is essential that adolescents have a group of suitable adults in their lives to be able to choose among a group of possible guides. Therefore, if a teen does not want their parents to be their guides, he or she can look for a grandparent, uncle, family friend or teacher. Parents can help their teenagers find guides by encouraging participation in sports groups, music, associations (such as scouts), volunteering, or in the church to increase the number of positive adults available to be guides.

Teens usually have more than one guide and the guides change during adolescence. The youngest adolescents, from 13 to 15 years old, go to find guides to help them with the most basic questions related to their physical, cognitive, emotional, social, and moral development. Later, between 16 and 18 years old, the guides and the questions will be more complex and will be influenced by the information they have learned during the first years. In the end, the older teenagers, between 19 and 22 years, they will consolidate all the information they have learned previously and will look for guides that can help them with this task. The objective is that the adolescents have answers to all the questions and these answers fit with the type of person and the way of life preferred by the adolescent.

Reasons why teenagers do not mature

In cases where adolescents do not mature or chronologically are adults, but behave like adolescents, it is usually because:

- Teens are not looking for guides to guide them because they are so comfortable that they do not want to mature anymore
- they do not have relationships close enough and / or reciprocal with the guides to understand well what is happening
- they are not consolidating the information they have learned from the guide and, therefore, can not move forward and deal with more complex issues
- they have learned from their guides behaviors that do not correspond to the life of an adult

It is always better for parents to think about the importance of this process of finding themselves as soon as possible. A happy and productive adolescence is based on proactive fatherhood to anticipate the child's development and plan to avoid the most common problems.

Parents can learn more about this process before adolescence and position themselves to be the main guides. And, if children do not want their parents as guides, parents can support close and reciprocal relationships between the child and grandparents, uncles, friends of the family, and others to further control the type of guides available. In any case, adolescence does not have to be a tumultuous time. With information about the child's development and processes, parents can equip themselves with the effective tools to overcome the transition between childhood and adulthood.

Deanna Marie Mason, expert in education and family health. Blog author Dr. Deanna Marie Mason. Proactive fatherhood Professional support for the modern family.

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