In this edition of 'Teenage Sins', we look at one of the most challenging teen issues faced by parents of teens - LUST.
By Kannalmozhi Kabilan
When 15-year-old Kavya’s (name changed) parents found out about her physical relationship with a boy two years her senior, all hell broke loose. Kavya was monitored on her way to school and back, and her phone was confiscated. A couple of reluctant friends and a clueless younger sibling doubled as trusted spies during school hours. Calls to her were passed on only under parental supervision. Access to the Internet was limited for academic purposes only. They relaxed the ‘curfew’ only when Kavya, affected by guilt, apologised profusely for her actions.
We definitely are not debating whether Kavya’s situation was handled appropriately, but are looking at the issue that led to the melee at home. Teen years are characterised by raging hormones and changing needs. It’s the time for pimples and facial hair, for butterfly-ridden stomachs and blush-filled cheeks. This is when teens fall head over heels in love. Or do they? Have they just mistaken physical urges for intimacy?
Physical or sexual attraction is considered an important component of love. For teenagers, love automatically justifies as physical relationship. Given the brittle mindset, teens tend to overlook the pitfalls, and mistake lust for love. “Adolescents, when they think they are in love, start with infatuation but remain stuck there,” says counselling psychologist Karthik Lakshmanan.
Psychologists define love as a three-stage process. Interestingly, all 3 phases have a tinge of lust in them, albeit in varied proportions.
Aarthi Mohan, mother of 16-year-old Manasa, says, “A couple of months ago, I found out that my daughter had feelings for another student from her class. A few undeleted messages on my phone was evidence enough. She seemed to think she was in love with the boy when they hardly knew each other. That got me worried.”
Elaborating futher Karthik adds, ”Today, teenagers want to act more like adults and demand the same level of autonomy and independence.”
Popular culture, be it through movies, new media trends, advertisements, best-selling books, etc. overflows with explicit content on sexuality and pornography. To the uninitiated, a.k.a the eager-to-be-an-adult teen, this overload of information triggers unrestrained enthusiasm and half-baked knowledge.
It’s common knowledge that teenagers are most influenced by their peers, for better or for worse.
A group of hormone-driven teenagers is bound to be curious. There’s always someone in the group who knows a lot about the subject, and someone who knows very little. Endless discussions, elaborate fantasies and a certain amount of ‘competition’ is inevitable.
Teenagers go through a period of active growth, physically and emotionally. This is the period of self-discovery, be it intentional or accidental. They naturally move on to pornography and more. That’s when they start to become sexually aware, and with that comes the need to try more, know more.
We all have come across different versions of Kavya’s story. Most of us are likely to agree that her parents did the right thing. Well, turns out, we couldn’t be more mistaken as such extreme measures only tend to antagonise the children more.
“Empathy is the key. Understand that all this is quite natural for their age. Parents should be friendly enough for the teens to be able to share everything. Unconditional regard and acceptance is what you need to win over your teen’s trust,” says Karthik.
Here are a few ways to handle the tricky situation:
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