When a teenager does cross their teens and become an adult? It is a question that usually leaves teens and parents both confused. As it can be seen in California that one can get a license to operate a car at the age of 16 and vote and die at the age of 18 for their country but they can’t buy a beer until they become 21 years old. Teenagers are told almost daily not to act like a baby and to grow up and at times they get a message, “you are not old enough to do that”. More importantly what is these adults expected to do in this era of high tech.
Faiza Shah Afridi is Clinical Psychologist at willing ways Karachi. She is a Bachelors’s in Professional Psychology and an M.Phil. in Clinical Psychology from the Institute of Professional Psychology (IPP), Bahria University Karachi Campus. She is working as Illness Management and Recovery Practitioner by providing Psychiatric Rehabilitation to adults with Mental illnesses including Bipolar, Schizophrenia, and Depression for 2 years.
Editor: Sahrish Sarfraz
One perspective of looking into the concept of adolescent development is to understand their Developmental Task. This term was originally coined by Conger, as these tasks are socially expected age-appropriate tasks that are required to make the transition from childhood to adulthood.
These Developmental tasks also vary from culture to culture and with the passage of time and era, but some of them are universal. They include attaining independence from parents/guardians, regulating sexual maturation, sustaining helpful relationships with peers, arranging for vocations, and evolving a sense of identity. Also, there is a rapid physical and psychological change as compared to other stages of life.
Becoming an adult is not a piece of cake, in developing a sense of identity teens may pass through several identities before finding the one that fits. This also explains different girls who dye their hair blue and then red, as they are experimenting. Teens fight with parents, and this is one way of expressing their independence from parents. Teens might not aware of what they want but they are clear as to what they don’t want. They don’t want to identify with their parents. Unfortunately, many parents take this push away from them.
One crucial thing that almost every teen face is peer acceptance. But how an inexperienced young individual can exhibit a perfect balance of competing for acceptance to a reputable college and be liked by close friends and competitors? In an individualistic and competitive culture adolescents pass through all difficult psychological transitions and become an adult on their own with very little support or guidance as compared to adolescents. They can also mistakes which is obvious.
In simpler cultures, fathers prepare their sons to become a farmer like they are, so they can take over the farm that belongs to their own family. And girls are supposed to have a large extended family like their mothers, aunts, and grandmothers who helped them give birth. Hence roles were defined in the simpler culture and people knew that what they are expected to do. But, it’s not the same anymore and it can be seen that many younger people are off to college with an expectation that they have to find their ways all alone.
Thinking in terms of developmental tasks is helpful in identifying the adjustment of teens. For example, we can see social impairments in terms of addiction, substance abuse, and mental disorder, and in adults, it can be clearly seen as they can’t keep joining or continuing their relationships. But in teens their occupation is their school and relationship is their social life which consists of friends. A very clear signal of some problem in a teen’s life can be seen in poor academic grades and losing their social circle or changing friends often. Also, withdrawn behaviors and isolation can be a concern. Once a child is off to school or college parents don’t know what their kids are doing there and their good grades can be seen as a representation of a balanced and adjusted routine.
Some issues of teens are very difficult to identify. How does a normal acting out can differ from rebels? When does recreational drinking for fun with friends develop into chronic alcoholism? Which kid often steals candy bars and is caught up or stopped? Who ends up facing legal issues with a record in the legal system? Some college students may sell their worthy resources to pay college fees while others just use illegal means to earn money for their fees. These are all very sensitive decisions that kids or teens at times make. So in this situation, it is highly suggested to intervene and resolve the issues as a confrontation of such sensitive issues may cause rebellious teens to move further towards rebelliousness.
The path towards adulthood is often not very smooth and the road from teenager’s life to adult’s life is bumpy and parents’ demands from their parents are often unrealistic. Stanley Hall, an early writer on the study of teenagers, in 1904 identified this age as a “storm and stress.” Anna Freud believed that teenager is not normal if he/she doesn’t act out. Many teens feel lost and they at times are compared to a ship afloat in a storm without any sailor. Teems at times become chaotic, dazed, and lost, but most of them do navigate this crucial phase to their adulthood successfully.