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Parenting in the Modern Society

The teenage world has undergone a transformation. Traditionally the teenage years stretched from ages 12 to 18. However, because individuals mature at different ages, and due to the effects of modern society, teenagers are now classified as ranging from ages 10 to 22. These years are said to be the most important and the most sensitive stage in a person’s life – the time when social impact has the greatest influence on a young person’s well-being. It is important, then, for parents to give more time and attention to meeting the needs of the young adolescent, to be there for them, especially when they are facing the usual problems of youth. Then again, even when parents try their best to understand their teenagers, there will be times when it becomes more difficult to appreciate the problems the young are facing, due, in part, to the wide generation gap between parents and their young. While this difficulty indeed arises, both parent and child need to learn to be more patient and understanding in communicating with each other.

As well as being openly communicative, parents also need to recognize the educational achievements of their offspring, not just by blindly praising them, but by really being able to understand them so as to help develop their child’s self-esteem. This is actually one of the most important growth Indicators. Relationships between teenagers and others are defined as vertical or horizontal: the relationship with parents being classified as vertical (upwards from child to parent, and downwards from parent to child), and the relationships with friends being classified as horizontal (they are on the same level, sharing the same interests and experiences, which makes conversation more informal and relaxed).

With regard to ‘sex education’, parents often avoid this topic with their children. A survey carried out among Macau students found that teenagers in Macau are of the opinion that sex education should be taught in primary school. They also believe that it is more appropriate to receive sex education in school rather than at home with their parents. Together with this, there is a great demand for sexual ethics to be dealt with at school. Parents and schools should, therefore, pay closer attention to this matter and collaborate more with each other. Parents should also be able gradually to educate their children on the meaning of love and marriage. On the other hand, prior to this, parents need to understand their children’s character, their strengths and weaknesses. Knowledge and care are required just as in cultivating healthy plants. If children are aware of how much their parents care for them, they will respond and also be able to change and grow in love, since parental influence on children is always the greatest.

Parents will feel greater responsibility in care for their teenagers, and be greatly supported in their task by attending parenthood lectures or seminars. There will always be a gap between generations. But the challenges are greater today than in the past: when parents were themselves going through adolescence, there were often more siblings in the family so they could learn from each other, whereas today’s teenagers are more usually the only child in the family, and are materially better off so they do not have to worry about what to wear and what to eat. The rapid development and availability of information technology has also had wide repercussions in the lives of teenagers since they are now able to obtain vast amounts of information very quickly by using the internet. But aside from all the advancements in our society and the world today, parents need to be able to understand the unique characteristics of their child, and give them the proper space and freedom to become their own person.

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