HomeHow do we provide our teens the safe space?AdolescenceHow do we provide our teens the safe space?

How do we provide our teens the safe space?

Has your child broken any school rule/s before? 

How bad was it? What or who influenced them to do so?

We just got back from buying the eldest boy’s school uniform. He’s entering Secondary 3 next year and will be upgrading to wearing long pants as part of his school uniform. 

When we got home he tried the pants on again and looked very displeased with it. 

Mum, can I alter it please? It’s so ugly, it’s baggy and too long. No one wears such pants! I’ll look like a nerd. Can I shorten and taper it please? 

But Abang, tapering it will be against the school rules. I can understand if you need to shorten it but not taper it. That will change the way the pants should look in the first place. 

A week after school starts I noticed his pants looks tighter at the end than before. Sigh…..

This was 2 years ago. At this point the boy has already graduated from secondary school. He was lucky he wasn’t punished by the school for altering his school pants because the alteration was not obvious. 

Importance of peers’ opinions

If you recall in my earlier blog entry, I mentioned how forming their own identity on top of the need to be accepted by their peers was one of the things that matter highly to these adolescents. So in this case, even though altering the pants meant breaking the school rules, being accepted by their peers was something more important and how the moral decisions they make are very much influenced by the opinions of their peers. 

Kohlberg theorized younger adolescents are heavily influenced by the opinions of other people and make moral decisions based on how their decision might be judged by people who are important to them so if you realise, in this case they are more concerned with the opinions of their friends. It doesn’t matter that by doing that, they will be breaking the school rule, especially since they felt that it is just a minor one.

When we talk about spiritual development, it is tied to moral development. I will not discuss spirituality in terms of religion as I am no expert but based on research, the relationship between spirituality and positive youth development are highlighted. Different ecological factors, particularly family and peer influences, were found to influence spirituality.

Based on intelligence development, this is a stage where they develop from concrete thinking to abstract thinking meaning they stop looking at things as just something that is “black or white” but they start to form opinions of things that happen around them. Due to this development in thinking too that there is this spiritual awakening in them.

I recall my 11 year old daughter recently questioning about aurah as I taught her why she must start covering up as she has reached puberty. She even asked why there is a difference between the aurah of a man and a woman. Thankfully these are questions that I could still handle, however when the eldest boy was 15, he started asking a lot of things about the religion like the significance of the stories of the prophets to how we should live our lives. At this point it was beyond what I could explain to him as someone who does not study the religion as deeply, but I was thankful that he had a religious teacher from his Sunday lessons at the mosque whom he was very comfortable with and could address his curiosities and his need for deeper understanding of the matter. 

In conclusion, this is a phase of deep curiosity and need for exploration, so as parents we must be willing to provide that safe space and brave space so that our children can approach us openly to discuss even the most private and most controversial of issues. Ultimately, spiritual anchorage of an individual promotes positive development, something we as parents aspire our children to achieve.

Ref: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3349204/

PS: I thought I would share what I discovered from my research of how spirituality has the potential of being important as a child goes through the physical, social and emotional developments in adolescence. 

“Recent studies have also explored how spirituality is a potentially important anchor for socio-emotional adjustment. For example, spirituality has been found to shield adolescents against risky behavior, such as delinquency, substance abuse, sexual promiscuity, and emotional problems, such as depression, anxiety, and suicidality (e.g., Sinha et al., 2007; Desrosiers and Miller, 2008; King and Roeser, 2009). Studies have also demonstrated that spirituality is significantly associated with indicators of subjective well-being – higher levels of positive emotions (e.g., Ciarrocchi and Deneke, 2005; Holder et al., 2010; Smith et al., 2012) and more life satisfaction (e.g., Kelley and Miller, 2007; Kim et al., 2013). These findings are important for understanding the contribution of spirituality to socio-emotional adjustment, because recurrent experience of positive emotions, which are an important component of spiritual practices (e.g., Van Cappellen and Rimé, 2014), have been shown to build psychological, physical, and social resources that enhance one’s ability to deal with life hardships (e.g., Fredrickson et al., 2008; Cohn et al., 2009).” 



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