If we were preparing for an important job interview, we would take the time to develop the best possible presentation. In preparing out children for puberty, we need to be no less thorough. As parents and teachers we need to provide our children with the best guidance we can give so that they are well-prepared for this challenging stage of life.
The importance of puberty: Puberty marks the turning point in a child’s journey from infancy to adulthood. It is hard to overemphasize the importance of this transition. The physiological changes of puberty profoundly alter the child’s self-perception. The dawning awareness of sexuality and its accompanying attractions introduce a powerful new dimension to the way a young person relates to the world. It is important for parents and teachers to work together to prepare children for a healthy and positive adolescence.
Appreciating the treasures of childhood: There are qualities of childhood like spontaneity, trust, simplicity, and joy that are often overlooked by our society. In a Living Wisdom School we value these qualities and are committed to helping children carry them consciously through their adolescence and into adulthood. These qualities are subtle and in a sense fragile when confronted with the powerful forces unleashed during adolescence. Adult support and intervention can be crucial.
Sex and modern culture: We live in an age where sex is largely commercialized. Physically attractive movie stars are idolized. Sex is a key factor in marketing everything from automobiles to soap. The lyrics to many popular songs are filled with sexual references. The pitfalls of sex, however, are usually ignored. Great care is needed to prepare our teenagers for such a challenging aspect of life.
The importance of understanding and intention of adolescent relationships: Understanding intimate, one-on-one relationships is a crucial part of the transcendence into adulthood. It is important to realize that both persons involved need to have respect and honor for each other, while managing to keep focus on academics and integrity.
Specific actions that parents and teachers can take in a Living Wisdom School:
- We can provide a balance of group activities so that teens have the time with their own gender to develop a sense of comfort with their bodily changes, while also having enough coeducational interaction to learn how to relate to the other gender as equals.
- We can set guidelines for coeducational social events that include: no overnight events that involve both boys and girls, attentive adult supervision at all times, and providing a ride after events instead of having children find their own way home.
- We can cultivate our children’s will power, and the accompanying quality of self-control, by giving them responsibilities around the house and asking them to earn money to help pay for some of their activities.
- We can encourage quiet moments, times in nature, and the practice of meditation as means of helping children develop the sense of peace and intuitive perception that can provide an inner source of moral guidance.
- We can support personal excellence in schoolwork, music, sports and other activities that can broaden and strengthen a child’s self-concept. If you can’t identify something, then invite other adults to spend time with your child sharing their passion. It is amazing how contagious enthusiasm can be.
- We can encourage parents to make sure that their child is gaining useful knowledge and experiences involving websites such as Twitter, Facebook and Youtube.
- We can encourage our students to be sure that they feel a good level of emotional and physical maturity before becoming involved in a relationship, ensuring a healthy and respectful experience.
- We can satisfy our teenagers’ innate need to expand the orbit of their lives by supporting positive new experiences like adventure trips, service projects, and dormitory living. In these ways we can reduce the potential for involvement with drugs, alcohol and other substances that have a negative effect.
- We can nurture friendships between inspiring adults and our teens. These friendships and their potential for meaningful communication can be invaluable during the teen years.