Relationships : The Family (Part 1)

Relationships are the way which two or more people are connected. Young people are in many relationships. The relationships that young people have include family, friendships, dating and courtship.

By Fadzayi Maposah

Family is where young people start interaction with other people. Families come in various forms: the nuclear family made up of both parents, single parent families, child headed families and the extended family.

These days the family is under a lot of reconstruction with many demands, strains and pressures upon it.

The family, peers and the society play a major role in socialising young people. The way that people turn out is determined by the values that were instilled in them as they were growing. Children and adolescents alike learn more by imitating rather than just listening. The `do as I say` adage does not work particularly for young people.

Parents and guardians are faced with a lot of work bringing up 
children in a world that at times goes against what the parents 
hope to achieve.

At times parents or guardians are overprotective because they believe that the world is becoming too permissive. This is because the parents/guardians naturally want to protect their adolescents from making poor decisions.

It is important that the family instills the correct values in the adolescent. Each individual is influenced by the values of their families, culture, religion and friends. One needs to decide what their personal values are.

Adolescents with time move from the safe haven of the home and the watchful eyes of the adults. It is critical that the family empowers the adolescents that even when away from the home, they are able to build healthy relationships which enable growth and independence.

Adolescents` struggle for freedom involves working to achieve psychological freedom from parents so that they become their own person. Young people also want to have their own thoughts, feelings and determine their own values. One thing that young people value is their privacy and being allowed to plan for their future. In all this the young people hope that they can maintain a clear balance between personal and family needs, values and beliefs.

Adolescence is a time that most parents/guardians hope they could wish away. The adolescent undergoes physical and psychological changes that neither the adolescent nor the parents know how to handle. The relationship between the adolescent and the parents/ guardians if not handled well can be a land mine infested area with each cautious step taken capable of detonating harmful land mines.

While there are dangers in granting young people too much freedom, conflicts can also arise from not giving any or enough freedom to the young person. Young people need to be given both the responsibility and the opportunity to explore and make decisions as well as participating to formulate family rules.

The conflicts that can arise between parents/ guardians and young people can be due to the choice of friends. Parents/ guardians need to be aware of their children`s friends. The young people need to be empowered to know that bad friends can lead to their down fall and the reverse is also true. Good friends can build them up.

In trying to show that they are grown up, young people can choose to come home late resulting in conflict. Young people love loud music. The essence of their enjoying music is playing it at loud volumes. This is a potential conflict area with the parents /guardians who may not also approve of the lyrics in the songs.

With the advent of social media, the dress and appearance that the young people adopt may irk the parents / guardians resulting in conflicts where adults are labelled `old fashioned`. Added to this, a young person may decide that they want to engage in forbidden activities that include smoking, drinking and sexual activities. This results in many tantrums that can damage relations between the young person and the parent/ guardian. Parents and adolescents may fail to agree on a career path with adolescents feeling that the adults are interfering where they should be given the power to choose what they want.

Next article will look at how the family can be a source of support 
for young people.

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