Teenagers are a diverse social group with their own beliefs, values, attitudes, expectations, and behaviors. These can differ widely and reflect accumulated knowledge, individual experiences, as well as a broad range of social and cultural influences. Today’s teens like to be in control, managing their lives and the things within it such as technology and how it is used to communicate with each other; i.e. texting, instant messaging, emailing or placing a call. These days teens like having options and the freedom to choose. Teens also enjoy social networks. For example, Facebook is a popular social network which many teens frequent. Teens also enjoy trends such as Anime which appear in the form of television shows, books, games, movies, and other merchandise. Traditionally teenagers would have used family, church members, or peers to inquire about health issues. Currently, some are using impersonal sources such as television, radio, books, and pamphlets. According to the literature, a dissonance exists between what adolescents perceive as priority health concerns and what others think may be important.
Adolescent years can be a healthy transition period; however, even in optimal conditions they are not stress free. The majority of health problems experienced in this stage of life will come from environmental stressors such as risky behaviors and psychosocial needs, rather than infectious disease or illnesses. Some examples of negative environmental responses that teens may face are weaker attachments to parents, schools, religious organizations, lower self-esteem, and negative peer pressure. For example, when a teenage girl act against social mores, such as being promiscuous and become pregnant, because she perceives that is what her boyfriend wants, she incurs negative environmental responses.
My husband and I saw the writings on the wall starting in the public school system when our first child was diagnosed by her 2nd-grade teacher with an attention deficit hyperactive disorder or ADHD. My husband and I took this seriously and had her examined by health professionals who stated there was nothing wrong with her. Regardless, the teacher continued to insist our daughter had ADHD and stated she would treat her as such. When the school assistant principal sided with the teacher we decided to homeschool all three of our children. The point of this story is, as parents we must stay vigilant of the writing on the wall, or red flags, as we are our children’s first defense against people who do not always have our child’s best interest at heart. I feel blessed to have teenage children who are working, doing well academically, and sit at the dinner table where we laugh and joke. I listen to my teens talk about their college days, work, drill weekends, and capture mentoring moments to talk to them. I made it a tradition in our home to cook every Sunday where we sit down as a family and eat. We share game nights when everyone’s schedule permits. In other words engaging our teens, listening to their stories, and learning to speak their language can beat the odds of getting them through the toughest period of their life—the teenage years.
Share your Story of how you keep your teen engaged.