Undertsand Your Teenager's Needs

March 21, 2011

"Eleven year old girl child committed suicide after her mother had read her diaries in which she had written about her friendship with a boy classmate" (daijiworld.com, March 15).

Sad and horrible news of a young girl committing suicide, though it must be an eye-opener to millions of parents in India and around the world.

A few responses from readers:

- Growing up has become a challenge in today’s times and parenting is a horrendous task to today’s generation where mind, materiality and madness living has become a norm ignoring the life’s true values.

- Sensitive situations should be handled sensitively and with extra care. What did the mother achieve by taking such a harsh step and making it public in the school, and even if she were alive, do you all think the child would have continued to go to school when the mother had spread the news?

- The biological aspects of human sexuality deal with human reproduction and the physical growth, which means that increase in body temperature increases levels of pleasurable hormones. Hence the parents should understand their children and act very cautiously because the child realises that something terribly went wrong in their act of little pleasure

- 1. Parents should build a trust with the child, so that child feels secured in sharing any information with parents.

2. Value education by parents to child is very important so that it acts as a shield against any evil coming in from media, friends etc.

3. Parents should be responsible enough to watch their child and guide them always and they should compulsorily devote time for this.

4. Don’t load the child with too much study, tuitions etc. Understand the child's capacity and feed accordingly. Every child cannot come first or score high marks.

Different opinions and responses, who is to blame? The mother, or the child?

I am one who strongly condemns the social system existing in our part of the world. Is it wrong to exchange letters or for that matter, a kind of love (infatuation) during teenage or puberty years? Infatuation or blind love is common as the parents do not want to accept their child’s sexual development. A girl child who is 11 and also her boy classmate who may be of same age – don’t you think they in teenage years or in a stage of puberty?

Leave alone the west, even in Malaysia or Singapore parents worry if children of that age do not make friends with the opposite sex. They would be badly disturbed or would approach a counsellor or psychologist to seek advice whether the child’s sexual orientation is not normal (gay or lesbian attitude?). What is wrong with the so-called developed, educated parents of 21st century in India? If opposite poles of magnet do not attract, isn't science wrong?

Every human being has a few stages of development, namely, baby - child - adolescent - adult.

During each stage there is a physical and psychological change and development. Every parent has undergone these stages and each one knows that adolescent or teen or pubertal age is the most vulnerable and curious age. It is a stage wherein a boy enters into manhood and girl enters into womanhood. An age wherein visible physical changes (growth) appear with an invisible psychological development . A boy/girl will enter into their sexual maturity phase. In our brain, there is a small structure called hypothalamus, which starts secreting the important hormone of sexual maturity – gonadotrophic releasing hormone (GnRH). Activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis:

• Induces and enhances the progressive ovarian and testicular sex hormone secretion.

• Profound biological, morphological, and psychological changes to which the adolescent is subjected.

GnRH in turn will help in the release of follicular stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) from pituitary gland which is again in the brain. FSH will stimulate the growing ovaries and help in the release of estrogen and progesterone in females and LH will stimulate the special cells in testis to secrete testosterone in boys.

When estrogen and progesterone, which are called the sex hormones, are released in the blood, they enable a girl child to enter into puberty. Secondary sexual characteristics such as growth of breast, pubic and axillary hair and moreover attraction towards the opposite sex (boys) will appear which is very normal and natural. Among boys, testosterone, called the sex hormones, will enable the development of facial hair – moustache, axillary, pubic hair. Enlargement of sex organs and attraction towards girls (opposite sex) which is very normal and natural will also occur.

Secondary sex characteristics appear at a mean age of 10.5 years in girls and 11.5 to 12 years in boys. During this period there is a psychological change wherein a boy starts dreaming about a girl, and a girl about a boy. This is a period during which physical attraction and urge for sex is common. A balanced healthy family and understanding parents with lots of love and concern is very important as the child is vulnerable every moment during the phase of this period. The child seeks love, affection and valuable time from his/her parents. Now that every parent is affluent, the tendency of the child diverting into an unwanted relationship is common. It is a period during which a child may commit mistakes such as going into relationship with a person of the opposite sex in the neighbourhood or school. This tendency is normal and can be corrected by developing a loving atmosphere at home.

During puberty, plasma estradiol levels fluctuate widely, probably reflecting successive waves of follicular development that fail to reach the ovulatory stage. The uterine layer is affected by these changes and undergoes cycles of proliferation and regression, until a point is reached when substantial growth occurs so that withdrawal of estrogen results in the first menstruation or bleeding medically called menarche. This gives the idea that girl daughter is able to reproduce or be a mother.
Among boys, at this stage there will be increase in testicular size, scrotum slightly pigmented, a few long and dark pubic hair, testicular length 3.3-4 cm, lengthening of the penis, increase in pubic hair, testicular length 4.1-4.5cm, increase in length and thickening of the penis, adult amount of pubic hair, testicular length greater than 4.5cm, full spermatogenesis and boy is able to produce male cells called sperm. Puberty is completed usually within 3 to 4 years of its onset.

At this stage, parental understanding and tender love and care is the most essential component. Along with the physical changes that appear, psychological changes do appear in both boys and girls. Both boy/girl may experience embarrassment or shame regarding his/her changing figure. This could affect self-esteem as well. Boys go through a social awkwardness when their voices change. Teens sometimes begin to act out as a way to cope with their out of control feelings and as a way to fit in as there is a growing challenge. The adolescent years are difficult days for teens and parents as they figure out how to relate to one another and adapt to what's taking place.

In our Indian context, discussing sex is a taboo, neither the parents nor the school bother about it, and he/she ends up seeking peer or senior friend's advice. In most of the families both parents are so deeply engrossed with their daily routine that they don’t even have time to talk and understand their child. Most of the parents are shy to talk or even think about their child’s sexuality.

Parents need to be proactive and need to understand and love their teenage child more at this stage. Sexual thoughts will disturb the teenage child every other minute, which is absolutely normal. Keeping the child idle will aggravate it more. Encouraging outdoor games, team work, allowing the child to mix with children of the opposite sex of the same age is essential at this stage. Above all, most importantly, love your child more at this stage, spend time with him/her, forgive his/her mistakes, even if you find an sms or a love letter in their pocket accept it silently as at this age crush with opposite sex is normal and common. It shows that your child is maturing normally.

Never ever bring in the school teacher or parish priest into the scene as the child cannot tolerate or bear insults and is too shy. In case the parent cannot handle the teen-related mistakes, take the child into confidence gradually. One can also consult a professional counsellor. This also must be encouraged with mutual agreement of child and parent. Teenage is a very difficult stage both for the parent and the child.

Present day parents are always busy in their own work or profession. Busy in accumulating wealth for the unseen future, though that future may not be a reality. In our Indian context, the mother is the sole company, care giver, affectionate parent as the father is busy earning for the unseen future! Parents, let us spend our valuable time with our teen children. If possible let us try to be more friendly, break the age barrier so that a child is able to share his/her problems easily. Let us accept the sexuality and the sexual development of our children.
Remember, mistakes do happen and love is the language to correct them, not punishment.

Reference for figures: http://www.google.com.my/imghp?hl=en&tab=ii&q=hypothalamo-pituitary-gonadal%20axis

Dr Urban is a professor in School of Medicine, University Malaysia Sabah.

By Dr Urban J A D'Souza, Udyavar
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Comment on this article

  • Undertsand Your Teenager's Needs, ANISH AKKI

    Thu, Dec 08 2011


  • Anil Dsouza, Taccode/Dubai

    Sun, Mar 27 2011

    Informative Article.Every parent must read it

    I was really shocked when I read news of suicide by that Young girl.

    Going by the news,I feel that mother crossed the limit.

    Even one can't blame mother if she might not have been educated

    May that lil' angel's soul rest in peace

    Thank you so much dear Dr. God Bless U


    Sat, Mar 26 2011

    Here may I advise all the readers to read the comments of Mr. ashenoy,mangloor….again & again who has correctly diagnosed the root cause of the disease. As the saying goes" Prevention is better than cure"….Mr.Ashenoy has rightly suggested the preventive methods. Parents have remained silence since 20 – 25 years indifferent towards the 'Sex sells" formula used in the commercial advertisements, TV serials, news, Media etc. Having done nothing to stop this, now only by trying to patch up with superficial solutions will not help. The right solution is to form an "NGO", with like minded people of ashenoy to bring moral awareness in the community and at the same time pressurize the Indian Censor Board to stop all such "Sex sells" advertisements. To start with we can put up the case legally to bring down the obscene hoardings at least in our two districts and also convince the local News and social Websites to maintain moral values.

  • Margaret Rego, Mangalore, Kuwait

    Fri, Mar 25 2011

    Excellent article Dr. Urban, this will definitely open the eyes of many mothers. All parents should read this article and try to understand their teenage children well and spend some quality time with them as they grow up, and should not be too strict or else they'll keep many things confidential and will be scared to open up when they are in any kind of similar problem.

  • Cynthia, Sornad/bantwal/Navi Mumbai

    Wed, Mar 23 2011

    Well penned down article Dr.Urban...all mothers should read.....

  • P.S., Bombay

    Wed, Mar 23 2011

    Dear Dr. Urban,
    You have touched on a good topics in your article and I do agree with most of them. However, you had also said do not burden chidren with studies/ tutions etc. Are we burdening them or the Indian system of eduction? Also, you mentioned 'Busy in accumulating wealth for the unseen future, though that future may not be a reality..' Really??? Is it possible for everyone to sit at home? If you dont work for money, one may end up with no funds to educate the child, which in today's society is very much required or the child may end up as a reject. I know so many people who would love to sit at home and be with their kids but cannot do so as they need to make ends meet. In today's world, parents have to be afraid of their kids.

  • Alban D' Souza, Udyavara Mumbai Doha Qatar

    Tue, Mar 22 2011

    I agree and liked with Mr.Mathew's (USA)commetns on this article . The definition of man is tht Man is a social being. Without relationship (good or bad) man cannot live or survive on this planet, but one more thing is that when we live in this materialistic world (Some way or other) we have to follow certain spirituality which is given by our Great religions of the world to relate with our Creator which gives meaning to our lives along with others. It is right that there is certinly difference between Western and Indian culture so sometimes we mix up with this and children dont know what to do? During this stage parents must guide the children which suits them best.

  • A.S.Mathew, U.S.A.

    Tue, Mar 22 2011

    Excellent article: but how many
    parents are going to sit down and
    apply the article into the practical side?

    Majority of the Indian parents
    are of the notion that the ancient
    Indian culture is the greatest
    culture, and force their children
    to blindly follow it. On the
    other hand, they are swallowing
    the western culture conscientiously
    along with the rest of the family.

    The western culture is materialistic, but the Indian
    culture is basically spiritual.

    The blind march for more material
    things of this world will push
    us all to work double, and our
    family relationships are being
    dangerously broken.

    Even though all the parents have
    passed through the critical stages
    of teen-age years, many parents
    are simply ignoring those personal
    challenges of the former years, and
    simply ignore their children's
    emotional needs. If the parents
    are failing to guide them properly,
    they will be misguided by some
    other individuals.

  • Rakesh Dsouza, Taccode, Dubai

    Tue, Mar 22 2011

    A very good, informative article. thank you!

  • Dharmendra M.P., Mangalore/Jeppinamogaru

    Tue, Mar 22 2011

    Very good and very informative article, every parents should read this. well done.

  • maria fernandes, m'lore / qatar

    Tue, Mar 22 2011

    Excellent article Dr. Urban.

  • juliet, mangalore

    Tue, Mar 22 2011

    good article... Mr. Ashok Periera you are right...

  • G.N.BANGERA, Mijar/Muscat

    Tue, Mar 22 2011

    We have guide all the teenager to study the good advice of DIVINE PARK SHALIGRAMA book for better life with noble birth of human live to pray for god is bliss art of living will be known then never fail read the DIVYA BELLI

  • Benedicta Lobo, Udupi/Dubai

    Tue, Mar 22 2011

    Thank you very much for this informative article. Looking forward more such articles.

  • Sabir, Katpadi / Bangkok

    Mon, Mar 21 2011

    Teenagers have passed the relatively calm years as kids but they are not into the adult years yet. They struggle to figure out where they are in life and who they are. They are thinking about their future and trying to find answers. They are preparing for being independent.

    If parents treat and educate their teenagers just same as treat and educate their young kids, the teenagers will complain that parents lecture to them, and they become rebellious. They usually mess up being independent with being rebellious.

  • Ashok Pereira, Shambhur/Ireland

    Mon, Mar 21 2011

    In India we are always proud of our culture which seems to be the root problem for most of the social problems we face today. We want to follow the west in terms of entertainmet and the living standards but we dont want to let our children live their life. Parents will decide what profession they should choose, who will be their life partner, how they should dress..etc...and finally the parents spend their money for the wedding of their children unlike in developed countries. Unless Indians change their mindset nothing changes in India. We might talk or send e- mails describing about India with words like proud to be Indian..etc... There should be a social change in India in which the individual comes first irrespective of his caste, religion, location and sex and everyone's rights and wishes are respected.

  • Anil Misquith, UpperBendore/ Dubai

    Mon, Mar 21 2011

    *Very Good Article* Keep it up! More & more i have to learn from this too!

  • ashenoy, mangloor

    Mon, Mar 21 2011

    Dr. Urban, your article is trying to educate the educated masses. What is happenning out there per your professional thought has relevance and it relates to growing. Its nothing new. From time immorial, children/people have grown up and while I cannot verify the turmoil in society at that time I can say now a days, the SEX has been commercialised not for societal morals but for business. NO ETHICS/MORALS at all.
    As you know the saying "sex sells" its the selling that has ruined the current day society and trends.
    Parents while trying hard to raise the children, its the society and business that is involved in flashing the sex across.
    The small children while attaining puberty are not only confused but pay a lot of attention to news, tv and media.
    We as a responsible society have lost our moral grounds and these moral grounds alone are destroying our young and shaping the character of the children at early stages. No matter how much education there is, a society which magnifises sex is the spoiler. The so called western world despite open in sexual behaviours of parents, the sex related crime and behaviours have not deminished despite understanding and sexual thoughts and behaviours. What we need is character building that must come grom society as a whole and not from parents alone although parents also part and parcel of the general society. Ethics and morals alone can save our children and rest all is tokenism and will fail immensly in protecting our children

  • Bulsam, Mangalore

    Mon, Mar 21 2011

    The biological aspects of human sexuality deal with human reproduction and the physical means that increase in body temperature increase in levels of pleasurable hormones. The child realises that something terribly went wrong in their act of little pleasure and the guilt is killing them. In such cases the parents should understand their children and act very cautiously because the age and manner in which children are informed of issues of sexuality is a matter of sexual education. The school systems in almost all developed countries have some form of sex education, but the nature of the issues covered varies widely.

    In some countries "age-appropriate" sex education often begins in pre-school, whereas other countries leave sex education to the pre-teenage and teenage years. Sex education covers a range of topics, including the physical, mental, and social aspects of sexual behavior.

    It is astonishing to know that there are some weird sexual interests that deviate from the normal sense and strangely there are different types of sexually attraction towards homo, hetero, pre-pubescent female, post-pubertal adolescent, non-human objects etc. because human physical development and their psychology is very complicated and varied. The parents should identify special cases in their own children and treat them accordingly through a specialist.

  • Dony Lewis, Katapady

    Mon, Mar 21 2011

    Dr. Urban,
    Thanks a lot for this article.
    can you send me your email or contact numbers.

  • John Tauro, Mangalore / Kuwait

    Mon, Mar 21 2011

    A highly informative as well as an instructive article. A "must read and understand" for every parent.

  • Ananda , Bottu Daarekatte Bantwal

    Mon, Mar 21 2011

    Excellen and very intresting.....


    Mon, Mar 21 2011

    Thank you Dr. Urban, Good article...
    As a parent i gained the knowledge of this generation and while reading comments of parents 11 year's chattergie girl case lot of things v understand every parent worried about thier kids & doing the best and for that both need to work hard i request you please publish one good article for teenage childrens too in order to understand the feelings of parents and cooperate and choose the right path which leads to thier success and keep in the mind the only one first friend is a parent (stands in gods place) instead of outside temporary friends. Thank u once again for this wonderful article...

  • Deepak Dsilva, Paladka/Dubai

    Mon, Mar 21 2011

    Thank you Dr.Urban and Daijiworld for this wonderful article. God bless you all

  • Swetha kamath, Mangalore / Hyderabad

    Mon, Mar 21 2011

    An excellent article to the present day parents who are busy in their own work .

  • Nancy, Mumbai

    Mon, Mar 21 2011

    I asked one of my friend when we met after so many years "our time our parents never told us to sit and study, instead we should help them in the work and then sit to study"

    He answered me "during our time, children used to compete among themselves, now a days mothers compete on behalf of children".

    How true this is! really now a days parents wants children to excell thier children in all the field. since morning 7 a.m.till evening 9 p.m they are occupied with school, dance class, music class, karate class, then what all classes....

    Above all now a days changed education system is another headche to parents and to children....

  • Pearl D'sa, Mangalore/Nasik

    Mon, Mar 21 2011

    An excellent and informative article , a must read for all parents.Thank you Dr Urban Dsouza and daijiworld for these pearls of wisdom.

  • Jessy, Mangalore/Dubai

    Mon, Mar 21 2011

    Great article Dr. Urban. Please keep writing articles like this. Because in todays world parents are confused so much to differentiate between which is right and which is wrong. They want to give best to their children. We should educate them which is best.

  • R.Dsouza, Mangalore/Muscat

    Mon, Mar 21 2011

    Good article. We parents required this type of articles often to read and understand ourselves first to develop a positive attitude towards our teenagers.

  • janet dsouza, m'lore/kuwait

    Mon, Mar 21 2011

    Thanx-a-lot Daijiworld and Dr.Urban D'souza....bcoz ..Sometimes sandwitched in between the 'chicken run' and the 'rat race' we parents forget and ignore some important values in life.This article should be read by all the parents and should be practised accordingly....for a healthy future of our society.

  • Prisha Mascarenhas, Kirem,mangalore

    Mon, Mar 21 2011

    Excellent and informative article. Please keep writing such articles for all stage (child, adolscent and young adult)human beings. Being mother of 5 children of all stages, i am confused several times while making decision for my children. This kind of articles in this daijiworld where almost all mangaloreans are readers will be very useful.

  • Jane Misquith, Bendur/ Dubai

    Mon, Mar 21 2011

    Excellent Article! Keep it up! Even i have to learn from this article.

  • Rina, Dubai/Mangalore

    Sun, Mar 20 2011

    Every parents should read this article.Great one!

  • Anil, Mangalore

    Sun, Mar 20 2011

    excellent! very informative.

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