REFLECTION: Piety and adolescence PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 08 September 2014 13:46

BY FR. ROY CIMAGALA

 

THEY don’t seem to get along well. But that’s the challenge. How to make our adolescent boys and girls develop and practice piety is actually a grave concern for everyone, especially for the parents, teachers, and others like priests, counsellors, etc.

We need to give due attention to this challenge because much of the future of the family, society and the world in general, not to mention, the Church, depends on how these youngsters are building their spiritual life which is actually the foundation of our whole life.

We all know how difficult this stage of our human development is. Everyone has his own experiences and can attest to the delicateness of this part of one’s life. That’s when big changes are happening in these kids’ minds and hearts.

Rather all of a sudden, these teeners want to be independent and yet they are not quite ready to be so. They want to express their individuality, their uniqueness, and many times they channel these urges in a rebelling way. We should not be surprised by this. In fact, we should expect it.

As a way to express themselves, they can sport a Mohawk haircut, for example, or dreadlocks or mullet hairstyle. They can wear earrings and nose rings. They want to try something new, and they really love to have gimmicks. All these should not be a major cause of concern. They are part of the changing world.

We need to understand why they don’t want to be told, and why they hate rules, deadlines and curfew hours. They have mood swings, from being couch potatoes during the day to being hyperactive at night. Again, very understandable.

What ought to be the focus is how to inculcate in them, using their language and schemes, a deep piety, a working one that would put them duly in contact with God and with others as they go through their adolescence with all the quirks it is known for.

This would certainly require time and effort, a lot of creativity and tons of patience. But it’s all worthwhile. The heavy investment is sure to produce good results in the future.

Precisely at this stage, the adolescents need to be close friends to their parents and teachers. It’s in this time that the parents should give quality time to their youngsters, planning and thinking of how to make the bonding more meaningful. This need should not be taken for granted.

Truly a lot depends on parents and teachers as to how these adolescents can cope with their condition properly and learn to develop an authentic piety.  Our religiosity is always at the core of our being, whether we are young or old, rich or poor, healthy or sickly.

It’s a matter of how to enter into that core that comprises the big challenge. Parents ought to know how to do this, since it is presumed that they have been rearing their children since infancy, or even before that, when these kids were still in the womb. They should know what clicks and what would not when dealing with their children.

An important thing to consider is that these teeners need to know the reason behind the practices of piety they were introduced to as children and were just expected to follow. Obviously, the reason should not just be a matter of words, but should be acted out daily.

What draws the attention of youngsters and helps them to form convictions out of theories, doctrine and suggestions is when they see these principles acted out. They also need to see how these principles are applicable and very relevant to their day-to-day concerns.

It has to be considered, of course, that these youngsters have a short attention span and an initially shallow take on things. They want to see and touch things. They want action more than words.

But if the family practices of piety are done consistently, with some words of explanation, clarification, suggestion and correction given at appropriate times, they sooner or later will get the point.

They would have a sharp sense of piety and of the sacred. Their urge to pray and to relish the word of God would just come out naturally.

Let’s remember that it is also during this period that the youngsters are literally bursting with idealism that needs to be channelled properly.

We the elders have the incumbent duty to really take care of our youngsters today, if we want to build a good tomorrow for our society and the world in general that now is darkened by a spreading godlessness.