Teenage is a time when the passions reign supreme and can be overwhelming like a river in spate. A teenager is a bundle of intense feelings and emotions with strong likes and dislikes. He is all passion that runs wild and unhindered. Hence it is an important time for character formation. It is not just man’s brain that needs education but also his heart, emotions, feelings, body. The heart and emotions often overrule and boss over reason. Just as he has a voracious appetite his emotions run like flood waters above the danger mark. .Seeking thrills is a compelling attraction in this age. Thrills give so much sense excitement and feeling of achievement .Riding bikes at crazy speed with deafening noise in the center of the city or in posh residential quarters with residents shell-shocked and watching with dismay gives immense satisfaction to the daredevil teenager. The citizens cannot ignore him and they must grudgingly acknowledge that he makes a difference to their lives though as a nuisance. At the height of this thrill he may easily forget the sober fact that speed can kill and has its high risks. Eloping with a boy can also give great thrill to a girl and she may think of it as a way of punishing parents who want to control too much. Infatuation and elopement are very distinct possibilities for teenagers who are starved of affection at home. I want just to experience it a little”The vulnerable teenager will not suspect the snake in the grass.
Similarly getting high on alcohol or slipping into nirvana in drug ecstasy can be certainly alluring propositions. He prefers not to consider the deadly consequences . Especially anything forbidden attracts the adolescent’ s instant desire to try it .It’s enough to tell him that a book is bad for reading, it will spoil him. He is sure to scout for a copy at once. Once he has set his mind on something he will pursue it with dogged determination till he can experience it .When young the blood is hot and controls are not yet in place. The young person might say,” I want just to experience it a little” but the fact is that he can be overwhelmed by passion that he cannot stop and draw the line where he wants. The distinction between love and lust begins to blur and there is no stopping the floodgates once a sluice gate is opened. It’s like a cloud burst which sweeps along anything on its path with breakneck speed and thundering sound. The effects of unbridled passion can be devastating.
Teenage can be a time of passionate personal attachments and crushes. One may get foolishly attached to an older person like a teacher .Someone of the other sex can become the object of obsession, distraction, devotion , exclusive attention, heartrending jealousy, daydreaming and mindless identification. A lot of time can go in day dreaming about the person while study or other important duties remain neglected. That person alone can fill the mind and heart and everything else may be forgotten. As it was said of Mark Anthony’s infatuation with Queen Cleopatra “this dotage of our general
Overflows the measure”
So endless phone calls, interminable chitchat , exchange of gifts are all part of the game. Since reason takes a back seat advice from elders about moderation would be like pouring water on duck back. Even necessary things like food, rest, sleep may be sacrificed in this relentless pursuit. Social ridicule and disapproval do not matter to the infatuated .They enjoy some kind of immunity from shame and embarrassment. The climax of such fervid devotion may be elopement or suicide pacts in face of opposition from parents. In case this attachment is not reciprocated it might devastate the devotee and the whole world might appear to him a bleak and barren desert like T.S. Eliot’s “ Wasteland.”
Adolescents are bundles of packed energy and these energies need to have healthy outlets. A sound mind takes shape in a sound body. The abundant energies of youth can find healthy expression in sports, games and adventure like mountaineering, canoeing ,swimming, trekking etc. . These give scope for expenditure of energy in high doses and help build up physical stamina. Sports also impart physical discipline to the fast developing body which needs to coordinate awkward body movements to acquire grace and charm. Dancing, rhythmic gymnastics add grace to movements. Swimming is an excellent all round exercise that benefits the entire body in addition to giving excellent relief from summer heat. Cycling, jogging, and walking are also inexpensive everyday exercises that benefit the body immensely. Playing games has the additional benefits of integrating values of team work, loyalty, respect for authority, rules etc. When one is tired out physically at the end of the day sleep comes easily as you hit the bed and you can sleep like a log and rise refreshed for the new day.
Interest in games and sports will keep the young away from undesirable company and high risk activities. These can save them from vices and bad habits which ruin the lives of many young people. Idleness is the starting block for many harmful activities. And watching the ‘idiot box’ all the time can not only make you overweight but also sap all your enthusiasm for living and deprive you of so much joy in being fully alive. Computer games can be useful provided that there are also physically challenging activities.
Man is not only mind and body , he is also spirit with a spark of the divine in him as most religions agree in one way or other. So “the complete man”is not only in need of Raymond’s suiting he must also kindle the divine spark in him and draw on divine resources plentifully available in prayer, devotion and spiritual practices. All religions have their sacred or holy scripture which elevate our mind and soul above everyday world to the transcendent God and lasting values.
The adolescent has a weak will and an unsteady nature as a characteristic of this phase of growth. Sometimes he can be very enthusiastic, idealistic, generous and altruistic. At other times he may be most selfish, discouraged and slovenly. He is unsteady in his behaviour and endeavours. Hence he needs constant moral support and assistance. This comes to him through divine help he receives through his faith in God. God’s grace and blessings help him to rise above his waywardness and become steady in his ways.
Educators also play a role by encouragement, rewards and constant reminders. Since the young are forgetful by nature educators help them with constant reminders. The physical, loving presence of the educators among the young is also a great help for them in character formation. This is of course demanding on the part of the educator.
For my personal reflection
1. What gives me great thrill? Does my enjoyment harm others?
2. Is eloping a suitable reaction to overprotection from parents?
3. Have I lost self-control any time? How could I have prevented it?
4. What good and healthy recreation is possible for me?