THE INERTIA IN ADOLESCENCE 17 YEARS: THE AGE OF TERROR
The inertia is a particular situation that occurs with greater intensity in the period of adolescence, particularly around 17 years. As I call it, the “age of terror”.
The feared, although also longed 17 years, are assiduously exuberant with emotions and extravagances, but not without blockages and inertness that make this moment difficult to manage both for the young teenager and for parents or guardians.
Precisely at the age of 17, adolescence usually presents its most complicated and arduous face. A tortuous and confusing moment in which the adolescent must be accompanied with greater patience and understanding.
INERTIA: APPARENTLY A COMFORTABLE POSITION
You will surely remember the inertia as a companion that has flanked you at some point in your life. Maybe after the loss of a job or a love, there was no way to get back on your feet. At times like these, doubts emerge and a feeling of “not being suitable” invades us. Facing a new challenge overwhelms and paralyzes us. If we let this paralyzing sensation persist over time, there is a risk that it will become an “inertia” that is hard to overcome.
Inertia usually makes its first appearance at the tender childhood age, on the first excursions to the “outside”, the time to go to school, “to have” to make friends, etc. Sometimes the child is misrepresented as misfit, withdrawn, having some kind of autism. Nothing could be further from reality. It is simple defense. On the contrary, it is an instinctively intelligent way of dealing with what we consider, (yes, perhaps wrongly), a threat.
But it must be recognized that facing new situations is not always synonymous with pleasant and enjoyable. Sometimes new situations are presented to say the least as perplexing, ambiguous, or decisively misleading. Of which “wisely” we avoid their confrontation by avoiding them. The ” forced obligation” to face such situations, obviously requires and therefore involves a good portion of fear, effort and will.
On certain occasions the assessment of the threat is so negative that we shy away, with or without reason, and we assume that it will be traumatic, or at best uncomfortable, we do not want to leave our state of “comfort”, and therefore consider that it is better not to face it.
As I am already anticipate, many times the motivation of not wanting to face such situations is related to the mere fact that we do not want to modify our state of comfort. But we must also admit that sometimes it is not worth facing, or that it really causes useless trauma.
It is a fact that after experiencing more or less the trauma of the confrontation, we usually tend to look for a way out of that trap. Not finding the right support, or the strength to “get out” of this trap in some way, we flatly refuse the idea. Sometimes, in adulthood, it is very frequent that it can appear unexpectedly, generating moments of blockage and confusion. But it is without a doubt in adolescence where it manifests its most infuriating version.
In adolescence, inertia induced to remain in a situation of stillness. An initial block triggers selective apathy towards certain duties, tasks, and commitments. Along with the distinctive antipathy, acidity and impudence typical of this phase, the adolescent stops doing certain incumbencies to which he had agreed to perform. Thus, for no apparent reason,“it fails to fulfill its obligations”. The “age of terror” has begun.
For parents and guardians this period is truly unnerving and irritating. A mistake parents make assiduously is to perceive this apathetic behavior as banal provocation.
A period of sequential inactivity begins, except for some activities that “strangely” have not succumbed to this seemingly unmotivated inopportune reluctance. Progressively, the adolescent begins to settle in this inert situation, distant from the rest of the world, and above all from their responsibilities.
“THE BREACH OF THEIR OBLIGATIONS”
Along with the typically inconsiderate, conceited and impertinent behavior of the adolescent, the failure to fulfill their duties, particularly in studies, that is, unjustified absences from class, low scholastic performance, lack of interest in study, etc. It is the point where parents most test their patience and integrity.
They fear the worst, the dreaded “school failure.” A ghost that suddenly appears on its horizon, which announces all kinds of misfortunes and miseries. It is not something easy for parents to assimilate. They who retain people of a certain criterion (having some more years and some more experience), see in these irresponsible gestures, lost opportunities.
It is not surprising that many parents go into crisis with their teenage children. They are frustrated in their expectations regarding the future of their children, what they expect of them. Not without reason the impairment of achievements and progress in that precious time, with those unique opportunities and occasions, with those resources made available sometimes with so much sacrifice and with that wasted vital and emotional energy, all wasted without any apparent justification, It can really mean a loss of opportunities and unique moments.
It is an objective fact that this moment, with these precise circumstances, may never be repeated. The good news is that other equally suitable moments may appear later and maybe even more fruitful (soon I will motivate you in what sense and why I say more fruitful).
Obviously these new moments and opportunities we can provoke ourselves (parents, guardians and adolescents), we do not necessarily have to wait for “luck or destiny” to put us in a position to improve again. In fact, it does not work that way, we have precisely ourselves to channel and guide our decisions and actions appropriately so that suitable moments for development appear again in this case of the adolescent.
Of course, even with this new opportunity in sight, in the minds of parents or guardians there may still be the shadow of the previous frustration, of the loss that is no longer effectively recoverable, which insistently clouds the new expectation of the future with another possible disappointment.
There is no other choice but to rationalize the situation, assimilating this erroneous and above all counterproductive junk ideas as a perception to discard, giving space to objective trust, and I say trust and not hope. Because what we have to give again to our young adolescent is confidence, credit so that they can arm themselves with courage, enthusiasm and above all motivation and with these instruments (and others) face the new challenges that await them.
Obviously not all parents and guardians get to approach their teenagers in this way. For them it is to take the bait again on something that has caused disappointment, loss and why not, also pain. It is understandable, it also involves a new emotional, material and time investment, which is even harder to assimilate if there has been a previous unsuccessful attempt (as is supposed to be the case) and therefore it is explainable that they find it difficult to come to a new compromise.
In fact, many are the ones who give up trying again, they are frustrated, fed up and disappointed, so much so that it is difficult for them to trust someone again. It is understandable, they are also people and as such they are exhausted. They need new stimuli to be able to react and continue to support their young teen. Guess what! Just like the teenager. There you have a point in common, a point of mutual understanding.
Because it is precisely through understanding where conflicts find a solution. Sometimes understanding is difficult, but it is not impossible. As parents or guardians we simply have to extract the strength and the will of the affection, of the interest and of the moral and emotional attachment that we feel towards them. And I say simply, because it should not be difficult to remove again the confidence, the desire and the illusion of love that we feel towards our own children. It would have to be something natural and as such we should not go against something that is naturally instinctive, logical and genuine. This is not the time.
But then, some of you may wonder, why sometimes we are not able to face this difficulty and we give up, leaving our own children to fall into failure? Are we denatured? How is it that we are selfish to the point of leaving behind the beings that we suppose we love the most?
Leaving aside particular cases (which also exist, I know), the answer to all these questions is always the same: we are simply human, and human in this context means limited and vulnerable. Yes, we are too. It is so. There comes a point that we had enough, because we are overwhelmed by the situation, we simply are not able to bear any more. And this is completely normal.
Depending on our temperament, personality, mentality and experiences, we have a greater or lesser level of bearing with setbacks and frustrations; Better or worse strategies learned or emerging to deal with conflicts and therefore different ways of reacting to an obstacle (in this case the adolescent’s stubbornness), which is difficult to “control” and overcome.
CONTROL: A CAMOUFLAGED ENEMY
Control, here is one of the key words of the matter at hand today, which is in itself and hides a camouflaged obstacle of rationality.
Under the noble appearance of guide and counselor, the control that we want to exercise over our adolescent children becomes a true incomprehensible and unfair oppression in the eyes of the irrational and sometimes, (it must also be said) despot adolescent. Confused, yes, by the many and continuous bursts of contradictory emotions and ambiguous feelings that adolescence itself entails.
Of course the chaos, although true and proven that adolescence causes, does not justify the ruffian manners that adolescents sometimes have, it is also true that these creatures must be in some way understood, if we take into account the mental turmoil, the uncertainty and the fear present in this period.
In fact it is a matter of time. After this period, the adolescent acquires a more authentic and clear understanding and vision of reality. It determines their character and begins to create their own mentality and personality regarding the reality that surrounds them. They grows into an adult and leaves behind the characteristics of a teenager.
TIME: A PRIMORDIAL PARTNER, WHICH WE HAVE TO WAIT
The time that at the time of the adolescent’s opposition we believed wasted, and consequently we saw it as our enemy, is now our ally. The passing of time will bring us what we thought was lost. Waiting for the right moment is essential when dealing with teenagers.
Many of you will ask yourselves, “what do you expect? There is no time to lose, the studies have to be done on time. You can not wait for the teenager to be comfortable. We have all gone through this requirement and they must also go through it.”
And you are right. But I ask you another question: Planned for whom?
The point is that the adolescent is sometimes required much and often more than they is able to cope with. Adolescence is a critical moment for them, they looks inadequate, confused, full of doubts and uncertainties. Clearly, they are neither prepared nor skilled to deal with so many new and often disconcerting things for them. But that doesn’t seem to matter. It is not relevant. We send them to the world with a plain paper underpants. Maybe it makes us laugh, but its the meaning that is important here.
We demand the same things that have been demanded of us, no more and no less, and so we hope that they will become an adult. We are convinced that this is the right method, it has worked with us, why should it not work with them?
I ask you another question: has it really worked with us?
You will answer yes. You have obtained a degree and consequently a remunerative job. Apparently you have achieved the goal of “being adults”.
But have you been happy in that period or do you remember it with a traumatic background? Have you had and hold today as well good days and satisfactory interpersonal relationships with your parents, family and friends, or that stressful period deteriorated irretrievably your affection and empathy, and the result of your relationships with others?
If we are honest with ourselves, we will recognize that although the imposition of an excessive demand has achieved decisively useful results on a material level, on the other hand, the emotional and psychological price has been very high.
Why not combine the two things so that we obtain better results in both aspects?
For them it is necessary to use “allied” instruments with which to adequately support and accompany the inertial behavior of inactivity that the adolescent presents in this period.
These instruments are:
The understanding, and we mentioned earlier. With it we will be able to understand and explain the feelings and emotions that the adolescent feels. At this point we will develop empathy, which will allow us to recognize ourselves and thus show solidarity with those feelings that our young adolescent is going through. Putting ourselves in their place will make us better discern their point of view, so we can better develop a strategy of support, support and accompaniment (attention that I do not say control) more in accordance with their character, personality, developed understanding, aspirations and talents.
Another instrument is time, we have also mentioned it. And now I am going to answer that question from before (I had not forgotten): “… the expected time“…, planned by whom?
Certainly not from ourselves, although it seems so. We demand it of our children but we have not “anticipated” it individually. It is actually provided in the same society. We parents and guardians demand it because the society that we have created demands it.
Otherwise the same social mentality calls us “bad parents”. We have (and therefore we are socially and “morally” bound) to impose a level of demand on our children imposed outside of our will. This encompasses forcing a certain scholastic performance, in a stable time and in a precise way.
Of course, this forced rhythm is already imposed on us by society since our son is born. In the face of society we have to be “extraordinarily portentous” in all our social facets, that is, at work, as parents, and specifically with regard to the academic instruction of our children, who have the obligation to “create” a particularly productive adult, materially speaking.
This task imposed by society is even more difficult in the period of adolescence. When the young person is more reluctant to adopt our rules and controls, often quite obsessive and insistently overwhelming.
At this point, parents and guardians must also be understood, who are also overwhelmed and pressured by the stress of having to respond to all these “adult” social demands. From there it is understood their anxiety and their constant harassment, that is to say their obsessive and always pressing control.
Parents are obliged to have the young “adult” child ready in the time determined by the institutions, otherwise in addition to “social signaling”, that is, crossed out with the dreaded school failure and its consequent social and economic marginalization, comes to appear before them, on the horizon the most feared by a father, that is, an uncertain and desolate future. No security or financial consolidation, no job projection, how will you provide for the needs of your own family, ect. That is, problems and more problems, generally of an economic nature.
The reality is that the future is not entirely determined by what you do or don’t do in that period. However, society makes us see that this is the case. No one knows the future, although it is also true that we can intuit and conjecture about it, but always partially and not definitively.
So the advantage of greater resource pooling cannot be underestimated. Better out the world with an appropriate underpants that with one of paper. Remember it.
The competition is brutal out there. There is no mercy or scruple. There may come a point that no one cares about your state of life, therefore it is wise to foresee every eventuality and decide with clear objectives and precise strategies the best and most convenient way to understand to obtain a prosperous future.
It is difficult to have an objective vision of the reality of life. We are designed and induced by society within a limiting mentality, which leaves only a part of the reality that surrounds us to be exposed and above all obfuscates and distorts the possibilities and options that we have to fulfill ourselves.
Society seems to protect us and provide us with what we are in need of, it may be partly so, but in reality it also limits us, and very much, controls us and makes us see unreal needs, obfuscating our preferences and freedoms.
As parents and guardians, (and also as a young teenager) it is useful to be aware of all the limitations of all those social conventions absorbed during our education that prevent us from developing according to our own affinity, potential, criteria and about within our freedom. legitimate to decide our own future without feeling guilty for something that others have decided important or essential.
Here we have another point in common between parents and teenage children. All of us would have to be freed from the oppression that an imposition supposes and at the same time now, bearing in mind all these factors, a better understanding, tolerance and mutual openness are possible.
The point is that both sides want the same thing, that is, prosper. The only thing is that parents have already adopted the way and the imposed times of the society (forced by the responsibility that supposes to be part of the society) and on the contrary the young adolescent, has not yet decided (because they think that they can decide) and dilates the times in an “unproductive inertia” for several superimposed reasons.
On the one hand, it is evident that they feels inadequate, unprepared and fearful, as we have already said, both because of the unknown that new multidirectional interactions entail, and for having seen something that they did not like (either from previous or indirect experience) and on the other hand, it is evident that the position that supposes to face new responsibilities and efforts will not be deprived of fatigue, effort and will, reason why the adolescent not deprived of cunning, procrastinates as much as possible their entrance in that adult world.
Obviously it is more comfortable to stay in the comfort zone. Where everything is controlled and their needs (sometimes reduced to a minimum) have been adapted to the existing resources in their family, social, study, ect. But that is also limiting. There is no progress. However, time will not stop, it will move forward and will pass impassively before its ankylosing inertia. In fact, the “time that passes” without doing anything useful is one of the recurring themes and with which we overwhelm adolescents, on the one hand because we believe it crucial ourselves (due to the urgency instilled by society, as we have already said ) and on the other, we use it as a desperate attempt (even if we blame the young person unfairly) to move the adolescent from their stillness.
Little by little the adolescent will show increasing hostility, at the beginning it will be one more resource to remove uncomfortable intrusions from their comfort zone, then little by little it will insinuate as part of their character, forming a hostile personality before everything that threatens their rather comfortable state. (according to their criteria), acquired with threats, delays and arrogance. This if the adolescent does not find a better option.
MOTIVATION: THE LEVER WITH WHICH TO TAKE OUT OF THE BLOCK
And how do we provide a cranky, foolish, closed-minded, and opinionated adolescent with a better option than they currently had in their comfort zone?
We need what I call a “pig’s foot” that is, a “crowbar”, something that acts as a leverage to raise and awaken in the young person a greater interest. In other words, we need to find a motivation to get the adolescent out of their comfort zone.
It is not an easy task, I say it, but it is possible. First of all we need to mentalize ourselves with a good dose of patience, integrity and determination, (which is supposed to come “standard” once you become a mother or father, which is not at all). Because like adolescents, adults have limitations, vulnerabilities and shortcomings, sometimes as much or more important than the teenager. Parents are often without tools, resources and knowledge sufficient to meet successfully the challenges life presents. Therefore, it is necessary to take into account this lack of suitability and preparation to be able to understand the circumstances, limitations and deficiencies in which parents have been involved, consolidated over time by a variety of motivations of which none is competent or capable. in knowing or judging. Here we find another point in common for a better understanding and mutual tolerance.
We do not have to be discouraged if we do not get results immediately. It is a mistake that parents often make, we think that with a simple or / and unique motivational talk, our child will change behavior.
Other times it will seem that the conversation has been successful and we see that our adolescent changes and adopts a strangely incongruous but apparently responsible and reasonable behavior (at least it seems that way and we trust it to be), then we hardly look back or a short period of time passes. (a matter of hours or days sometimes), everything returns as before, and we see our teenager immersed again in their comfort zone. Taking off the “unproductive inertia” is difficult, because it tends to raise the level of tolerance of “passivity” or indifference.
We have to try again, as many times as necessary. This inevitably involves the passage of time, and with it, the passage of opportunities (failed subjects, missed courses, material resources thrown away) wasted time and money.
It really shouldn’t be that way, it’s not wasted time, it’s the necessary time. Another thing is that the calculations of the time and the necessary resources have been made with a specific objective, that of providing an increase in consumption and the economy in society, without taking into account the comprehensive well-being of the adolescent, the parents and the rest of the family. Neither more nor less, books, scholastic materials, additional university courses, masters, money and more money out of the pockets of parents to provide a “good education” to their sons, but that it does not contemplate the integral prosperity of the adolescent, that is to say it does not take into account the psychological and cognitive sphere, where the fundamental focus of emotional, affective and relational well-being is found, and where the person can expand and enhance their talents and aspirations generating well-being, satisfaction and prosperity to your life.
The truth is that the value we want to give to time and things depends on ourselves. Having the ability to discern what is important and fundamental for us with emotional independence is a very convenient ability that will make you have your own criteria deprived of conventions and prejudices, so that you can be as free as possible to decide what is most convenient and conducive to our own life bearing in mind your aspirations, tastes, personality and interests.
In the same way we have to respect these freedoms in the person of our adolescent and treat them without prejudice or certain expectations of third parties (institutions and society in general), we have to try to reason with them, reaching real and concrete commitments, agreed in accordance respecting and considering the entire emotional, social and personal sphere of the young person and not exclusively the academic, economic or temporal sphere.
Give credit, give confidence, give reasons to reach an agreement. An agreement not imposed but contracted under voluntary mutual understanding. Without exaggerated oppressions or demands that only lead to stress and anxiety, and deteriorate relationships and emotional and affective well-being.
That is why it takes time, and that is why the period of adolescence is not the most propitious to make a young man reason. We often find ourselves in front of a wall (we have already explained why), but if we give it time and during that time the young man feels our unconditional and loyal support, sooner or later the young man “wakes up” from their torpor and begins to reason sensibly, their recognizes their mistakes and their selfishness, and they gradually commits themselves to their responsibilities, and achieves even more fruitful and quick successes, which is why what I call a “bypass”, occurs.
A bypass that cuts the times and even the resources used. The young person have now a clearer prospective about what they wants to do in life, so they does not delay their goals any longer and starts to realize their future. Somehow the “lost time” is recovered and the resources invested return in part. With the satisfaction that the emotional and affective sphere around the adolescent will have prospered, increasing the well-being of our young adult.
Our adolescent finally understands that the natural path of life is to also become adults, face life’s challenges and enjoy the opportunities and achievements that are obtained, while preserving the affective and emotional sphere that gives the complete boom to your life. Finally, they understands that setting goals and ways to achieve them is stimulating and convenient, and that achieving them offers great personal satisfaction.
That is why it is very important to teach and reveal to our adolescent a very valuable tool that we have actually already mentioned: emotional intelligence. But that’s another story.
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