Friday, 30 March 2012

The Effects of the Wider Community on Adolescent Development

Wider community exerts certain influence on adolescent development through social institutions, economy, media and social politics. Many contemporary societies do not recognize formally the transition from childhood to adolescence as traditional societies do. In this way young persons remain in the state of
uncertainty that can arouse a lot of anxiety in respect to the world of adults which is itself subject to great changes and transitions. This is most visible in the sphere of employment and its uncertainty for young people. The rate of unemployment among young people negatively affects the adolescent development. As many adult persons today have difficulties with employment, they very often cannot advise the younger generation on this matter since for many of them the social context has changed so much to become unrecognizable. The dilemma of many current families consists in similar problems of parents and adolescents. In other words, while adolescents are confronted with losses, changes and transitions in growing up, their parents are confronted with similar processes caused by unemployment, changes in working conditions due to economic problems of the society and/ or sudden and great technological advancements.

However, the adult persons on account of their own anxiety frequently react to behaviors, wishes and attitudes of adolescents with certain disdain of varying intensity. The parents themselves sometimes react like that in relation to their children and their friends. Such under-rating reactions are frequently mild and disguised as jokes or witty remarks about young people, but they can also assume the character of ridiculing and openly contemptuous words or behaviors, particularly in adults with stronger narcissistic personality traits.

do not see the future of the nation if it will depend on present frivolous youth and it goes without saying that all youth is by all means careless… When I was a boy they thought us to be considerate and respect elders, but the present youth is so clever and does not stand any restraints.
These words seem to be quite modern, though they were written by a ancient Greek poet. Similar lamentation so folder generations about young people obviously recur during the human history.

Such attitudes and feelings related to them often keep the adults from providing a more egalitarian and recognizable position for young persons within the family and wider community. Their anxiety or even anger most frequently appears to be an essential and vital factor affecting the development of the adolescent’s self. The conflict unconsciously occurs about the feeling of omnipotence. In terms of external manifestations, the feeling of omnipotence is primarily revealed in the feeling and belief of young persons that there is nothing in the world that they could not do and that they can solve any problem if they are given the chance. There are no impossible tasks or obstacles to anything they want. Everything accepted without hesitation by adults is subject to questioning by adolescents. There are no limitations of fantasy, while all restrictions in reality are accepted with protest. Young persons regard all their activities as serious, while adults often do not take them seriously, particularly because young persons lack perseverance in task accomplishments and are prone to dissipate their attention to multiple tasks. Such an approach requires concentration upon only one obligation, task or thing, for which the majority of young people are not developmentally ready. The commitment belongs to the next developmental stage, the transition to adult age.

One of the reasons for frequent belittling of young persons lies in the need of adults to underestimate this period of life which arouses in them anxiety and the feeling of frustration. As it happens, their relationship toward their own adolescence comes clearly into expression during their psychotherapy. The memories of events in adolescence are kept in the conscious of many adults and they are de-scribed usually without difficulties. However, memories usually contain facts, events and activities separated from affects that accompanied them during adolescence. What we fail to recover as a rule is the atmosphere in which the adolescent lifes, his anxieties, the height of elation or depths of despair, the quickly rising enthusiasms, utter hopelessness, the burning or at other times sterile intellectual and philosophical preoccupations, the yearning for freedom, the sense of loneliness, the feeling of oppression by the parental, the impotent rage or active hatred directed against the adult world, the crushes whether erotic homosexual or heterosexual directed, suicidal fantasies etc. These are elusive swings, difficult to revived, which unlike the affective states of infancy and early childhood, seem disinclined to emerge and be relived in connection with person of the analyst.

Why the adult person has such relationship toward his/her own adolescence? One of its main reasons lies in the fact that successful accomplishment of adolescence and transition to the early adult age requires the abandonment of one’s own omnipotence and the acceptance of reality of restrictions and priorities, both internal and eternal, along with ensuing changes in the ego and the self concept. This process usually occurs with difficulties and much internal and external struggle, particularly if the person is forced to take this step too early and does not come to this stage through a gradual development. The adult person has to maintain this position obtained with so many difficulties and to accept his/her own system of priorities. However, when during life the person is confronted with various frustrations, failures, withdrawals, and disappointments, he/she tends to re-establish this phase of omnipotence, wondering whether all his/her efforts to accept restrictions and his/her choices, occupations and vocations are the best and the only ones that is available. The feelings of omnipotence and freedom of choice are then reactivated and should be worked out or suppressed. This is particularly true for times when parents are faced with the same feeling of omnipotence in their children, and with the threat of the resurrection of their own suppressed memories of adolescence. This anxiety is an important aspect of general social depreciation of younger generation by adults, as it represents their fear that their self-sacrifice was perhaps futile or unnecessary.

Adults often typically react with excessive anxiety to aspirations of the youth, to their challenges to establish values and standards, to their discontent with the world in which they live and their wish make it a better place for living. Adults tend to stress uncertainties, doubts and difficulties that young persons will experience, often overlooking their strength, self-confidence and especially their wishes to make a better world. In other words, very little attention is often given to these constructive, adaptive and progressive aspects of youthful aspirations and activities.

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