By Satish Purohit
Teenage Blues, Parenting Clues, Anjaneya Mishra, Jaico,
INR 250, 194 pages
Reading the first few pages of this book brought back memories of my restless teenage years spent mostly in making sense of all the changes within me and the world outside. While our home was never short of love, there were no answers coming from my parents to pressing questions that were tearing me apart. There was academic and social failure, a chronic shortage of money, and a feeling of deep and complex insecurity that came from not knowing what the future would bring. Mishra deals with most of these issues, and offers suggestions on how parents can be more helpful and less critical in such situations.
Mishra talks about how much friends and peers mean to a teen. And how being accepted socially and knowing one’s friends
approve matter to a teen more than shoes, cell phones and even looks. He elaborates how the two common parental approaches – laying down rules for children that are too draconian, or ignoring very serious transgressions – can both be harmful. While the first makes him lie and cheat and do exactly what he wants behind the parent’s back, the second approach may push the child towards alcohol, drugs or other forms of abuse because there is no monitoring or accountability.
The way out, he says, is to explain logically why a rule has been made, allow reasonable concessions and relax. You should, in other words, not try to control too much because – face it – you can’t! It is however important to lay down basic ground rules and underline the consequences of behaving in certain ways. Above all, one should always maintain the tone and tenor of parent-teen conversations as a communication between two adults. Teens don’t like being talked down to, and in a country where three suicides occurs every 15 minutes and one of the three is a youth, it is important that the lines of communication be kept clear, argues Mishra.
Being written by a youngster who has just stepped out of his teenage years, the book offers an uncommon perspective that merits the attention of all parents and teachers. It is likely that one may not agree with everything the author offers as advice but it is not everyday that one gets to hear what a teenager has to say on parenting.