ADOLESCENT/YOUTH AND FAMILY DYNAMICS AND DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMMES LINA...
ADOLESCENT/YOUTH AND FAMILY DYNAMICS AND
LINA D. KASHYAP
The author examines the stage of adolescence/youth with reference to the fulfillment of the developmental tasks
of the adolescents/youth, those of their parents, as well as the developmental tasks of the families in the Indian
context. Developmental programmes are suggested for the adolescents/youth and for their parents, emphasising
their interpersonal relationships. Technology of education is also suggested for this topic.
Dr. Una D. Kashyap is Reader, Department of Family and Child Welfare, TISS.
Adolescence means 'to emerge', to achieve identity. Adolescence is a
transition period from childhood to adulthood extending from the eleventh year to the
twentieth year, thus encompassing the teenage years (Mahale, 1987).
Youth has been defined by the United Nations (1980) as being in the 15 to 24
This paper, therefore, is concerned with individuals between 11 to 24 years of age.
According to Ortega (1958), contemporaries who are of the same age
and have some 'vital contact' with one another are said to belong to the same
generation. Each generation is defined on the basis of its respective biological age.
Each generation has its own perspective and outlook on life. Here
we are concerned with two generations — one of the youth and the other of the
parents of the youth. The generation gap is the product of a socialisation process
coloured and vitiated by idiosyncratic parental preoccupations — preoccupations
with their own past rather than being centred around the future of society. Thus a
conflict of generations arises between the new and the established or old attitudes
and values (Gangrade, 1975).
The attitude is defined 'as a relatively enduring organisation of beliefs
around an object or situation predisposing one to respond in some preferential
manner' (Davis, 1968).
The value is defined as a set of principles whereby conduct is directed and
regulated as a guide for individuals and a social group (Davis, 1968).
Autonomy has been defined by Newman and Newman (1984) as 'the
ability to behave independently and do things on one's own'.
94 Lina D. Kashyap
Erikson (1958) has stressed that the specific unique task of
adolescence is the establishment of 'ego identity'. According to him, during puberty
and adolescence, all sameness and continuities relied on earlier are more or less
questioned because of the rapidity of physical development and sexual maturity.
There is tremendous anxiety about who one is and what will become of one. This
drives the adolescent to close inspection about himself/herself in his/her attempt at a
new integration of personality and a sense of identity.
The family, like the human being, moves through more or less predictable stages in
life. According to "the Duvall Eight-stage Family Life Cycle", a family enters the
teenage stage when the oldest child becomes thirteen years old and leaves it when
the first child gets married or leaves home for work as a young adult (Duvall, 1977).
According to Duvall (1977), the family's
developmental tasks at this life stage are as
(1) Providing facilities for widely different needs within the family.
(2) Working out ever changing financial problems.
(3) Sharing the responsibilities of family living.
(4) Keeping the parents' marriage relationship in focus.
(5) Bridging the communication gap between generations.
(6) Keeping in touch with relatives.
(7) Maintaining the ethical and moral stance that is meaningful to them.
Within the family, the adolescent and his/her parents also have their own
developmental tasks to perform at this stage. The developmental tasks of adolescents
are as follows.
(1) Accepting one's changing body including pubertal changes and learning to use it
(2) Achieving a satisfying and socially accepted masculine or feminine role.
(3) Locating oneself as a member of one's own generation by developing more
mature relations with one's age-mates.
(4) Achieving emotional independence from parents and other adults.
(5) Selecting and preparing for an occupation and economic independence.
(6) Preparing for marriage and family life.
(7) Developing the intellectual skills and social sensitivities necessary for civic
(8) Establishing one's identity as a socially responsible person (Duvall, 1977).
Developmental tasks of parents
of adolescents are as follows:
(1) Coping with developmental changes in themselves as they reach middle age.
(2) Believing in their adolescent children, helping them to gain self confidence and
to establish their personal identity and self concept.
Adolescence and Family Dynamics 95
(3) Building a good relationship with their adolescent children.
(4) Setting reasonable limits while gradually involving the adolescents/youth in
family decisions (Adapted from Duvall, 1977).
The above perspective rests on the assumption that high interdependence exists
between family members and that members must change the rules for interacting at
this stage of family development. This stage of family life is likely to be a time of
personal crisis for, both, young people and their middle-aged parents. During this
stage, both are caught up in feelings of role confusion and frustration as both strive
to cope with developmental changes in themselves and the tasks to be attained,
which affects their interaction with each other. Generational differences, if not
conflict, are inevitable and largely predictable. They can be positively related to the
adolescent's attainment of a well-integrated adulthood. However, for this to happen,
both adolescents and their parents need to be prepared to meet this life stage and
its developmental tasks successfully.
In the traditional Indian joint family system, lines of authority were clearly laid down,
with age, sex and generational status as important determinants of the authority a
person can wield in his/her family. Expressive overt behaviour from any family
member, specially the youth was restrained.
However, in recent times the pattern of family life has been changing and parents
have been more liberal in the upbringing of their children. As a result, parents find
that their children do not have the same attitudes and values with which they
themselves were brought up. Consequently, they find themselves unprepared and
at a loss as to the manner in which to grapple with the problems they face in relating
to their volatile and expressive adolescent children. They often tend to retreat into
the security of tradition and earlier patterns of parental authority, which only creates
more tensions. In this crucial stage of transition, the adolescents and their parents
need guidance and direction in preparing for and successfully completing the
developmental tasks of this somewhat turbulent family life stage.
For developing the course material for this topic, Indian literature on family
development and situation of adolescents have been looked at below within the
Developmental Tasks of Adolescents
Boys and girls enter the adolescent years as children and leave them as adults. It is
during these years that young people mature and develop the ability to live their lives
as autonomous persons. The major thrust of this stage of life is physical maturation.
Boys become men and girls attain womanhood during pubescence, with the
development of primary and secondary sex characteristics.
1. Acceptance of changed body and physique
The first and probably the most difficult developmental task for adolescents is the
96 Lina D. Kashyap
acceptance of their changed body and physique because these radical body
changes have physical as well as psychological repercussions. The emergence of
adult sexual potency is a source of disturbance and anxiety and may push the young
person into clandestine experimentation leading to an increase in promiscuity,
teenage pregnancies and venereal diseases. Rao (1982) has mentioned studies by
Joseph (1973) and Park (1972) which show that the incidence of venereal disease in
youth is on the increase and has begun to constitute a sizable health problem in
2. Achieving a satisfying and socially accepted masculine or feminine role
A young girl's response to pubertal changes depends upon her attitudes towards
herself as a female, and her feelings about her identification figure, the mother.
Parents are the primary sex role models for their growing children. Therefore their
understanding of and respect for their own sex roles as well as each other's sex
roles plays an important part in their children imbibing a correct concept of sex roles.
For example, a wife who complains constantly about her housework and who
considers herself a victim of her own sex and lacks the pep and push, presents a
very Unhappy picture of womanhood to her teenage daughter. Similarly, a husband
who hates his job or who feels that he has been pushed into an unsatisfactory
marriage, who finds raising and supporting a family a burden and has no time for his
children, is not likely to present a very attractive picture of the male role for his
adolescent son. Thus parents' own attitude towards their sex and their child rearing
patterns will form the foundation of sex orientation in the life of their child. Jaya
Nagaraja, a practising psychiatrist (1983), has cited many case studies where
adolescent have had difficulty in sex role identification, and have been driven to
immature sexual involvement because of parental attitude and negative portrayal of
sex roles by the parents.
3. Locating oneself as a member of one's pwn generation by developing more
mature relations with one's age-mates
As adolescence is a time for social expansion and development, adolescents tend to
centre a great deal of their lives about the activities, interests and attitudes of their
peers and the peer group assumes greater importance. The peer culture sets
patterns for staking their claim to adult pleasures of sensuousness. They learn to
drink alcohol, smoke, gamble, etc. Nearly all adolescents desire acceptance in the
eyes of their age-mates and will go to extreme lengths to gain and maintain such
acceptance. Hence, selection of friends and extend of interaction with them can be a
potential area of family conflict. According to a study by Gangrade (1975), placing
greater reliance on peer group was more pronounced in adolescents whose parents
were illiterate, conservative or authoritarian. Though a majority of both parents and
adolescents in this study were of the opinion that adolescents should have the final
say in selection of friends, comparatively, more parents felt that this should be
mutually decided upon or that parents should have the final say. They felt that their
children were not mature enough to discriminate between good and bad people and
it was the duty of parents to safeguard them from bad company.
Adolescence and Family Dynamics 97
As for mixing with the opposite sex, majority of the adolescents in this study reported
that they avoided open clashes with their parents on this issue, but did not care for
their parents' opinion when they were out of the house. They reported that the
college environment provided them enough opportunities to mix with friends and
build close relationships. This behaviour pattern was also observed by Garg and
Parikh (1976). Their indepth case studies of youth have highlighted the strong
ambivalences felt towards peers — the need to differentiate and yet to merge. Their
encounters with peers aroused a host of anxieties which generated a sense of
loneliness, isolation and erosion of self or a loss of sense of significance which had
to be coped with before reintegration of self could take place.
4. Achieving emotional independence of parents and other adults.
Sociologists and psychologists have viewed adolescence as a key developmental
period for an increase in the exercise of autonomy. Pardeck and Pardeck (1988) are
of the view that parenting style, family interaction and transitions related to the family
life cycle influence the development of autonomy in adolescence. The parenting
style that appears to best promote autonomy in adolescents is one that includes a
love oriented approach by parents, integrated with an authoritarian stance that
allows adolescent input, but also sets limits. Healthy conflict over everyday issues
important to both adolescents and their parents is normal part of the developmental
process leading to adolescent independence. Intense prolonged conflict however is
detrimental to the development of autonomy. A mid-life crisis in parents is also
predictable at this stage of the family life cycle. However, if parents are not prepared
for the mid-life crisis they experience concurrently with their child's adolescence,
they may negatively affect their own emotional well-being and that of their children.
Poole, Sunberg, and Tyler, (1982) did a comparative study of adolescents'
perceptions of family decision making and autonomy in India, Australia and the
United States. Their findings show that Indian adolescents reported lesser
opportunity for acting autonomously. The father had significantly more say in
decision making with both boys and girls in India. Their findings point to the fact that
Indian families do not place such a high value on independence and self-reliance,
and generally have not trained children for autonomy, and responsibility other than
obeying their elders and doing their family duty. There is also some evidence that in
the Indian culture, some power and authority are vested in other family members
and in other adults.
Garg and Parikh's (1976) analysis of the situation of youth was that experimentally
the youth in India felt that the demand for obedience emotionally blinded the parents
to the youth's own growing sense of responsibility, adequacy and growing
understanding of situations. For all practical purposes, in the eyes of the parents
they remained children and they chafed under this attitude. The persistence of the
demands for obedience in the same manner as in early childhood neutralised many
positive contributions of the parents towards the child's growth because it effectively
denied the very growth the child himself or herself was experiencing.
98 Lina D. Kashyap
One of the consequences, according to Garg and Parikh (1976) was to reinforce
dependency and with it guilt about independence and self-directed action. It kept
alive the doubts about the self's ability to handle situations without the guidance
and/or contribution of the elders and parents. A need to always get his/her own
initiative authenticated by the authority became a part of the growing self. Thus, on
the whole, the youth found themselves in a conflict. The sense of conflict becomes
polarized between the themes of 'living for oneself and 'living for others'.
5. Selecting and preparing for an occupation and economic independence.
It is during this period that the young person tries to think and aspire towards his/her
future career. They need to evaluate the educational accomplishment in relation to
the vocations aspired to by them. They have to realise what their responsibilities will
be when they grow into adulthood. In the fulfillment of this development task the
family plays an important role, as all the youth's aspirations, values and goals are
indirectly influenced by the family situation in which they were moulded, during the
whole childhood period.
In a study by Gangrade (1975), there were some differences in the two generations
with respect to occupational aspirations. The youth were more inclined towards
occupations which offered adventure, challenges and better monetary prospects
while parents were more concerned with the security offered by any occupation.
Parents rejected altogether some occupations like business, employment in
industry, government administrative jobs and armed forces for women, while the
female adolescents showed an inclination to step into all types of occupations suited
to their qualifications.
According to Mahale (1987), the family's socio-economic status may either open or
shut many opportunities for the young people and thus directly influence their
educational and vocational plans.
According to Sathe (1987) the rural adolescent girl in India is usually illiterate or a
school dropout. She is invariably married around the time of puberty and passes on
to motherhood and so has no scope to think of economic independence. Majority of
the boys in the villages are semi-literate. They hardly have a choice of vocation as
they are expected to work with their elders as soon as they are able. As far as the
adolescents and youth in urban areas are concerned, though girls may take higher
education, it is basically seen by the girls themselves and their parents as a means
to get a husband with a better standard of living. Very few girls are career oriented.
Urban male adolescent youth usually do not take higher education but try to take up
some employment and later get married.
In his study of urban schooling adolescents, Mahale (1987) found that the young
people at this stage thought of only a few occupations without much regard to either
the demands of the occupation or their own ability to study for it, or their parents'
economic capacity to educate them for it. Their choices were subjective and
Adolescence and Family Dynamics 99
emotional and based on glamorous notions. He concluded that they needed advice
and information in this matter.
The position seems to change as the adolescents grow into young adults. This is the
conclusion reached by Garg and Parikh (1976), who have stated in their analysis of
the situation of youth who were in the process of completing their higher education.
According to them the youth felt confident of their abilities, but they were extremely
doubtful of the quality and nature of the environment and work setting.
One element of anxiety pointed out by Garg and Parikh had to do with independence
from parents. Many a parent demanded that their son work closer to home and live
at home. The parents' argument was that he would save on rent and food. This
economic plea was resented by some youth. Many youth felt the responsibility and
burden of contributing to a sister's marriage, a brother's education, and meeting
other financial liabilities of the family. Quite a few felt the responsibility towards the
lonely, occasionally widowed and sacrificing mother, strongly. The anguish in the
decision making lay in the deep entrenched matrix of obligation to parents.
6. Preparing for marriage and family life
Nearly all marriages in India are arranged marriages, specially in the villages.
Selection of the spouse is done by elders in the family and within the same caste or
sub-caste. Love and self-choice marriages are exceptions. According to Sathe
(1987), most girls in rural areas are married around the time of puberty. Again there
is great social and family pressure on the young couple to prove their fertility within a
year of marriage. Fertility control is not left to the choice of the couple since the
rearing of children is considered a family responsibility.
According to Mahale's study (1987) of schooling adolescents and their families, the
general tendency among parents of all educational levels is that their attitude
towards their daughter's marriage is more conservative than towards their son's
marriage. Inter-religious and international marriages are not approved. Inter-caste
marriages are more tolerated for sons than for daughters. Marriage was a topic least
discussed in the family.
Gangrade's study (1975) gives similar findings on this aspect. According to this
study, marriage was one of the crucial areas where the two generations differed to a
great extent. The urban educated youth had distinct opinions about marriage.
Though many stated that they preferred arranged marriages, most of them felt that
they should have a final say in the choice of their life partner. Most of their parents
were also of the same opinion. But all the youth who preferred love marriages found
that their parents had the opposite view. Only higher income group students who
preferred love marriages found their parents in agreement with them. Some
students were uncertain of their marriage plans because they felt dependent on their
parents' reactions. Some did not want to go against their parents as they did not
want to hurt them, some because they were too scared of their parents to go against
100 Lina C. Kashyap
their wishes. However, a good number of boys and girls wanted the freedom to
choose their life partners.
7. Establishing one's identity as a socially responsible person
A specific unique task of adolescence is the establishment of 'ego identity'. The
family, specially the parents play a major role in shaping this process. This is a
period of strain in most families. As adolescents strive to establish their identity, and
to emancipate themselves from their parents, the parents tend to feel that their
children undervalue them — and the adolescents believe that adults generally
depreciate teenagers. However, when parents accept themselves as they are, with
all their weaknesses and strengths, and when they accept their several roles at this
stage of development without undue conflict or sensitivity, they set a pattern for a
similar sort of self-acceptance in their children. A young person is more likely to
accept himself or herself, when there is a climate of acceptance within the family, an
acceptance based on respect for each member as a person.
Garg and Parikh (1976) have very graphically brought out through their case studies
of urban Indian youth how in the midst of acute identity diffusion, certain strands of
the emergence of a new identity and a reintegration of self also appeared and in time
Developmental Tasks of Parents of Adolescents
The middle-aged parents of adolescents too have to cope with developmental
changes in themselves and their adolescent children. Every family requires a certain
conduct of its members, it sets limits to their freedom and enforces the conduct by
giving punishment or by extending rewards. It is accepted that discipline is a process
of training and learning that fosters growth and development. However, more
important than the method of disciplining is the attitude of the disciplinarian, that is
the parenting style in terms of the degree and kind of control that parents exert over
their adolescent children.
Garg and Parikh (1976) observed that parents in India made it clear to their children
that unquestioned and unstinted obedience was expected from them, though they
generally did not use actual words. Complying with the belief that 'parents know
better' was the basis of all decision making such as selection of colleges, careers,
jobs and marriage. Not only this, but any initiative by the son or daughter was a
challenge and was objected to. Parents become anxious about losing control over
their children, and reacted by creating doubt in the young person's mind about his or
her ability to become a self-caring responsible and independent individual.
Mahale's study (1987) showed that parents exercised greater control over their
daughters than their sons, resulting in some degree of frustration among daughters,
specially when they sensed injustice and discrimination.
Adolescence and Family Dynamics 101
The findings of a study by Dhammi, Sathyavathi and Murthy (1978) showed that
youth perceived their fathers as dominating and domineering, mothers were
perceived as more loving than fathers. Youth perceived themselves as more loving
than their fathers.
Gangrade's study (1975) showed that parental authoritarian attitude was the most
controversial aspect between the two generations. Youth particularly resented
parental interference in their personal matters like mode of dress, selection of and
free mixing with friends, leisure time activities, extent of relationship with the
opposite sex and marriage. In this study too, the father-child relationship was
typically one of authority, but with the mother, it was close intimate and loving. The
students stated that they wanted a father who would guide them, not impose his will
on them. The study further revealed that though the young people resented parental
authority, they accepted it as inevitable and submitted to it because of their social
and economic dependence on their parents. More youth resorted to defying parental
authority secretly. Comparatively, a larger proportion of girls than boys were
submissive. In this study, because a majority of the youth did not openly clash with
their parents the youth still had affectionate relations with their families, though not
companionable, and a majority of them expressed their desire to live with their
parents after marriage. Interestingly, more boys than girls wanted to live in joint
families after marriage.
Thus, the parenting style that appears to best promote positive development in
adolescents is one which includes a love oriented approach by parents, integrated
with an authoritarian stance that allows adolescent input, but also sets limits. This
requires that fathers take more interest in their growing children and both parents
are democratic, affectionate and nurturant. The critical question for parents is
deciding when to expand the options for the adolescent in the decision making
process; the adolescent needs these expanded options to make mature and
independent decisions in his or her own life.
Family's Developmental Tasks
It would appear to be self-evident from all that has been said so far that parents and
the family system need to interact differently with the adolescent versus the younger
child. The nature of this interaction and its quality will play a critical role in the
adolescent's transition into a well-adjusted social personality.
1. Providing facilities for widely different needs within the family and working out
Gangrade's study (1975) revealed that there was absolutely no difference between
the two generations in the preferential ranking of essential and non-essential items
of family consumption. According to Gangrade, this complete agreement between
the two generations on the family consumption pattern may be due to the fact that
the youth were indifferent and non-interfering in this matter and therefore reported
the actual situation in the family.
102 Lina D. Kashyap
Garg and Parikh (1976) have suggested that family structure affected the youth's
development. According to them, youth who as children were separated from their
parents for the sake of education and grew up with grandparents or uncles learned
to infer that sources of affection, dependency and closeness are not always reliable
in moments of stress and need. This bred feelings of rejection. They felt like
dependents in exile and fantasised about reunion and restoration with the family,
and displayed ambivalence in interpersonal relationships.
Other physical situations which have not been studied but which would affect the
accomplishment of this family developmental task are extreme poverty and
preoccupation with acquiring basic means of subsistence; residential mobility; and
family structures such as single parent families, female headed families, and so on.
2. Sharing the responsibility of family living
The parents can generally decide about the household responsibilities of various
family members, and this generates some degree of healthy conflict between
parents and adolescents. Some of the major findings of a study by Biswas (1988),
were that adolescents who came from a democratic family structure, characterised
by cooperation between mother and father in doing and taking decisions, household
duties, and social and economic activities, appeared to be more adjustable in
reacting to frustrating situations. On the other hand, adolescents from either
dominant or autocratic family structures where parents did not take decisions jointly
in cooperation with each other seemed to be more hostile in expressing frustration
and also showed fewer signs of conformity and patience.
In most families, some degree of conflict occurs over normal everyday issues such
as the youth helping in household chores. In Gangrade's study (1975), both
generations unanimously favoured young people helping their parents in domestic
work. As for husbands helping their wives in domestic work, there was surprisingly a
larger number of fathers than youth who favoured this.
Mahale's study (1987) has pointed out that in his sample, large sized families
demanded more help from their children in housework than small sized families. In
large sized families, the girls were required not only to help in cooking, washing and
cleaning, but also in looking after younger siblings. Thus different sized families
differed in the way domestic responsibilities were distributed among children. Girls
resented discrimination in allocation of work.
Participation in household duties need not always lead to conflict if parents are able
to help adolescents perceive housework not as mere duty towards the family but as
education in developing good habits and avoid making sex discrimination in
allotment of tasks.
3. Keeping the marriage relationship in focus
By the time a couple has been married for 15 years or more, they may have become
Adolescence and Family Dynamics 103
so preoccupied with their parental responsibilities that their marriage no longer holds
a central place in their lives. When the children were young, a major part of the
parents' time was utilised in concerns related to child rearing. The working parents
have been more absorbed in his/her work roles and associations. So putting the
marriage back in focus may be an important family developmental task at this stage.
Parents need to perceive each other as partners and companions as they guide
their children and plan their future together. They need to look after their personal
grooming and health, and need to encourage each other's development as a person
and support each other's interest.
A study by Rao, Channabasavanna and Parthasarthy (1982) points out that marital
disharmony among parents makes the adolescent anxious and disturbed and
affects the healthy development of his personality.
4. Bridging the communication gap between generations
Adolescents turn increasingly to their peers to share intimate confidences during this
period. Parents need to understand that young people must identify with their own
generation if they are to emerge as full-fledged young adults. They should therefore
refrain from prying, otherwise this will alienate them even further from their
teenagers. However, we find that communication weakens between the genera-
tions, in many families. In Gangrade's study (1975), most students reported that
their communication with their parents was confined to family matters, and they did
not discuss their personal matters with them because they were of the view that their
parents were orthodox and conservative, and would not only be unable to see their
point of view, but also show their disapproval in an authoritarian manner. The youth
felt it was better not to disclose their personal matters to their parents and avoid
tension and unpleasantness in the family. According to Gangrade, lack of
communication was also reflected in the fact that most of the parents of these
adolescents criticised the modern youth in general but were under the impression
that their sons and daughters were very obedient and conforming to traditional
Garg and Parikh (1976: 242) in their analysis of the case studies of youth concluded
Youth after youth failed in his/her efforts to redefine the matrix of his or her
relationship with parents. Infact, the youth started to experience the control
and authoritarianism of the parents with a new force. As the anxiety of parents
losing control of the youth mounted, their behaviour to evoke dependence
through guilt became more manifest. Very often the youth realised that the
parents needed reassurance but they did not know how to provide it. The more
the youth tried to establish their identity as self-caring (sic) responsible and
considerate individuals, the greater were the parents' reaction of doubt.
Parents did not know how to give up their old role. Each effort of the youth
made them feel helpless. So they reacted and the youth fretted and fumed. His
104 Lina D. Kashyap
good intention(s) see-sawed. He re-experienced the fact that he was
somebody for the outside, but a nobody for the home.
From these studies it is clear that parents need the love, confidence and respect of
their teenage children. They need it for the sense of success and accomplishment it
gives them, for they have invested a great deal of themselves in their children. But
parents need to understand that they will gain and maintain that love and respect
only when they dependably meet the developmental needs of their children. During
adolescence, these needs are just as vital as at any other period of the child's
development. Therefore parents need to restrain from prying and be available for
companionable chats. Parents need to show ongoing acceptance and affection for
their adolescents and willingness to listen if they are to improve their communication
with their adolescent children.
5. Keeping in touch with relatives
The teenage stage in the family life cycle is a testing time for immediate relatives. If
they pass the teenagers' vigorous standards of acceptability, they can contribute
much and gain much from association with young relatives. If they remain rigidly
rooted in old fashioned ways and ideas, young people will avoid them and will
associate with them only under duress.
In Gangrade's study (1975), adolescents whose parents insisted on them visiting
relatives or friends and attending social functions, stated that they found the activity
boring and disliked it. Relatives are very much part of the Indian scene. An
understanding grandparent can bridge the gap between the generations. So can
sympathetic aunts and uncles. Ultimately adolescents too want to be worthy of the
family, and want to measure up to their expectations of them.
6. Maintaining the ethical and moral stance that is meaningful to them
Adolescence is a period where idealism is natural and material goals are despised.
So if we emphasise socially responsible behaviour in adolescents, we shall be more
likely to have a larger proportion of good citizens in the future. During their search,
adolescents need reliable points of reference. These are the years when parents
must defend and adhere firmly to sound principles and standards of conduct.
Safeguarding adolescents from life's disasters is as important as giving them room
Families with adolescent members face real problems at this stage. They may find
themselves grappling with delinquent tendencies, irresponsible conduct, truancy,
questionable companions, confusion about love, sex and marriage and blocked
pathways to adulthood as adolescents go through the teen years.
Moral development may undergo a major shift during this stage as the social order is
examined, justified, and finally preserved and supported. Parents and teenagers
Adolescence and Family Dynamics 105
can learn from one another as they examine the ideas and values and evaluate the
policies and standards that they see in behaviour all around them.
Developmental programmes need to be planned independently for the adolescents
and their parents.
Programmes for adolescents would have two main goals:
— to help adolescents/youth develop positive social behaviours, such as self
discipline, responsibility, good judgment, and the ability to get along with others.
— to help young people to develop a strong commitment to their families, schools,
positive peers, and communities, including a commitment to lead healthy lives
(adapted from Lions-Quest Program; 1988).
To attain these goals, a series of experiential learning sessions need to be designed
on the following themes:
— Changes and challenges during the teen years.
— Building self confidence through better communication.
— Learning about emotions and developing self discipline.
— Friends: improving peer relationships.
— Strengthening family relationships.
— Developing critical thinking skills for decision making.
— Setting goals for healthy living.
Developmental Programmes for parents are essentially aimed at enabling parents
to support their adolescent/ youth's effort. Programmes for parents of adolescents
have the following goals.
— to help parents to get in touch with their own teenage years so that they can
better understand and accept their adolescent children.
— to aid their understanding of the different changes taking place in their
adolescent children so that they are better prepared for them.
— to provide ways in which they can help their adolescents gain self confidence
and establish their personal identity.
— to provide ways of listening and responding to young people that will increase
communication within the family.
— to help parents establish consistent rules and limits that will help young people
increase their self discipline and sense of responsibility.
— to help parents explore more effective ways of solving family conflicts fairly and
— to help fulfill their developmental tasks during this family life stage.
To attain these goals, group sessions with parents could have the following themes:
106 Lina D. Kashyap
— Typical adolescent behaviour and our reactions.
— A time of changes: adolescent development and its influence on behaviour.
— Communicating with adolescents: listening and responding.
— Living with adolescents: ways of getting along.
— Helping adolescents in development of independence and personal identity.
— In touch with each other: keeping the marriage relationship in focus.
Methods of Teaching and Learning
A minimum of three hours would be needed for this topic. In the first hour, the
teacher could give the students a broad idea of the developmental tasks of the
adolescents, their parents and the family as a unit, highlighting areas of possible
The next two hours could be utilised for presentation of developmental programmes
for adolescents and adolescents' parents respectively. The students who have
volunteered to make these presentations, could first give an outline of the total
programme. After this, one complete session could be role played with the students
playing the role of an adolescent group or a parent group depending on the
programme being presented. A discussion and an oral evaluation of the programme,
its content and skills of the facilitator could be done at the end of each role play. The
entire programme could be written out by the students and submitted. Grading could
be on the oral presentation and written assignment.
A variety of teaching materials could be used during the lecture by the teacher as
well as for the role play by the students such as case records, case studies, poems,
photographs, and so on.
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School Going Adolescents', The Indian Journal of Social Work,
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International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences,
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Marriage and Family Development,
Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott
Dhammi, R., Sathyavathi, K.
'Perception of Parents by Modern Youth', Indian Journal of Clinical
and Murthy, H.N.
Vol. 5: 123-129.
Identity: Youth and Crisis,
Monograph No.7, Austin Rigg's, Norton and
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New Delhi: Chetna
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Garg, P.K. and Parikh, I.J.
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'Sexual Problems in Adolescence', Child Psychiatry Quarterly,
Newman, B.M. and Newman, P.P..
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Illinois: The Dorsey Press.
Man and Crisis,
London: George Allen and Unwin.
Pardeck, J. and Pardeck, A.
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Autonomy. Child Psychiatry Quarterly,
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Poole, M.E., Sunberg, N.A.
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and Tyler, L.E.
India, Australia and the United States, Journal of Comparative Family
Vol. 13: 349-357.
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The Journal of Family Welfare,
Vol. 35, No. 2: 42-47.
Rao, V.N., Channabasavanna, S.M.
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and Parthasarthy, R.
Vol. 15, No. 4: 113-118.
Sathe, A.G. and Sathe, S.
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Young Adults, The Journal of Family Welfare,
Vol. 31, No. 1: 14-20.