Certain characteristics are common in the lives of teenagers be it physically or socially. They experience physical changes alongside academic pressures for carving good careers for themselves. Also at this age, the need for belongingness increases. A teenager attempts to become part of a particular group and ends up modelling the group's behaviour as well. This also leads to increase in a drift with their parents as peers become more important.
Apart from these, there is one more point which is frequently associated with a teenager. Teenagers may become enamoured with a film star or a rock star on TV or on the internet or they may encounter a person of the opposite gender in the neighbourhood who is good-looking or a classmate in school or tuition or someone they saw at a market place. Then for the whole day, the mind of that teenager revolves around their ‘new crush,’ and being with them forever. When they tell their friends about their newly found crush, some of them would be like “Wow!” while others may use the revelation as an opportunity for bullying and teasing. Even when they go on to explain their newly-found excitement to their parents, their parents may not express and reciprocate the teenager's excitement. They may bash them by saying that such things are no good and they should focus on their studies. Bang! This can further develop rifts between the child and their parents.
This raises a question- Is teenage attraction that bad? But it is not a choice, after all. It happens because of sexual hormones which instigate attraction. It may not last for a very long period of time but this sudden rush of feelings can make a teenager wonder- Why did it happen? And how to act when it has happened?
These teenagers should be guided that the sudden rush of feelings is NOT romantic love. It is ‘infatuation.’ Love happens at a gradual scale, it is selfless and it often involves a commitment to partners. Whereas infatuation, unlike romantic love, is based on the physical appearance and the infatuated person desires the reciprocation of their attraction at any cost. It can also happen that the infatuation gets over as the teenager gets to know about the disposition of their crush object.
Coming to the point of parents not accepting their ‘newly found love’. Teenagers then resort to media like movies and porn in order to understand the concept of love and sex. It has been seen that media knowingly or unknowingly promote things like stalking, playing with someone’s feelings etc. Moreover, the idealistic form of love wherein the lovers even after some rifts and struggle live happily ever after. Teenagers should be made to realise that love is not just about expressing their emotions to one another. It is much more than ‘I love you,’and ‘I love you too.’ It is a strong emotion which is felt from the bottom of the heart and which may require work.
What can parents do towards explaining their kids about their current feelings?
- Understanding that such feelings are normal: Parents should have a heart-to-heart conversation related to attraction and love. They should not make their child feel that whatever their child is going through is utterly wrong. Admonishing and taunts are the last things they should use at that point in time.
- Nature of the attraction: The feeling of attraction in an adolescent/teenager is as serious as the marriage of their parents. They should create an environment in order to ensure honest and open communication so that the child feels assured to confide in their parents about their attraction.
- Is it Love or Infatuation: Teenagers should be made to understand the difference between Love and Infatuation which I had mentioned earlier.
- Commitment in Relationship: Parents should make their child understand the importance of commitment in relationships. They should encourage their child to think as to whether they are prepared to take such a big step in life; understanding each other and compromising for each other’s needs and wants etc.Teenagers should also be told about financial stability which is one pre-requisite towards being independent. It is when they should think of taking a firm decision as to whether they are prepared for taking the relationship ahead.
To the teenagers who are struggling with the sudden rush of unreasonable romantic feelings- it is normal. It can be remarked as good because studies have stated that having such attractions are a sign of maturity. Do not take decisions related to the relationship in a hurry. You need to trust someone amongst your family and friends who can help you take the right decision. Yes, you can have a normal interaction with your crush (provided he/she is not a celebrity) and express as to how much you ‘like’ their company. Such attractions usually do not last for long and you will scoffingly laugh at it as you reach college or take up a job.