I am the mother of two adolescents!! And, since we homeschool, I spend hours and hours each day with these adolescents. And I love it!! (Most of the time!)
Adolescents are physically, mentally, and emotionally become adults, but the brain and body don’t always develop at the same rate. So, I have a thirteen year old boy who still loves watching cartoons (especially Phineas and Ferb) but wants to learn to cook and use power tools (not at the same time!). Sometimes the hormones just seem to be on overdrive and emotions are completely uncontrollable. And the next day, that excessively emotional teenager is very calmly driving me to the grocery store.
I have read somewhere (and since this isn’t an academic paper, I don’t have to go track down my sources) that adolescence is a creation of the twentieth century. Prior to this, teenagers were expected to transition from childhood to adulthood with minimal trouble. It was largely the start of mass education that allowed childhood to continue into the late teens. I agree that this is likely the case, but the body changes and hormones were still there. It was just that teens didn’t have the luxury to “freak out” on occasion because they were expected to be acting as productive adults by that time.
Another book that I read recently (again, I don’t remember the source) said that kids often don’t feel like they are doing anything important, leading to some of the adolescent angst. And, that’s not an unrealistic conclusion. Most kids go to school to prepare for college, which seems a million years away, and then maybe work in a fast-food place or have other kinds of “unimportant” work. The authors of this book recommend that kids become part of the adult world during their teen years by doing volunteer work or paid work that they see as having some value.
PWM and I love homeschooling because we can help them find places where they can learn to be part of the adult world. Wild Man volunteers on Wednesdays at the Senior Nutrition Site to pack Meals on Wheels while Rosie Girl does some clerical-type work for our church’s Worship Arts director. Wild Man is also busy every Sunday morning helping the Children’s Director at church with her skits for Children’s Church. And both kids are going to be helping us open the yarn shop.
Sometimes I feel like I’m on a roller coaster with these kids – sometimes they’re children, other times they’re adults! But, this is my job – helping them navigate all the changes going on as they become young adults and eventually leave home. Excuse me now while I go cry over scrapbooks and baby pictures!