Making Sense of Adolescence
Crossing the bridge from childhood to adulthood has never been so daunting. The time of adolescence is longer than ever and yet society today offers little support in understanding or facilitating this transition. This course material is relevant to anyone who is involved or will be involved with teenagers: parents, grandparents, teachers, counsellors, youth workers, social workers, psychologists, and administrators – anyone who desires to make sense of adolescence. Parents of pre-teens will find this course invaluable as preparation for what lies ahead.
The key to making sense of the adolescent is to understand the developmental dynamics at play as well as the attachment needs of the adolescent. These needs are typically underestimated due to the physical maturity of adolescents and the resistance to dependence that can result from becoming prematurely attached to peers. Adding to the confusion is the fact that there is more than one developmental pathway to adulthood and societal integration.
Nature’s part in creating grown-ups is to equip them for adult functioning around the time of puberty, ready or not. These changes create their own rites of passage that the adolescent must negotiate to truly mature. Unfortunately, growing up is not a given; not all adolescents embrace their developmental destiny. The most common temptation of adolescence is to replace parents with peers instead of becoming one’s own person. The most common mistake of adults is to back off prematurely. As long as an adolescent is not yet viable as a separate being, he or she is meant to be attached to those responsible for him or her.
These rites of passage create challenges for parents and teachers as well: the adolescent’s new found idealism makes them critical of us; their developmental self-absorption makes them deaf to our perspective; their acute allergy to coercion makes them rather difficult to direct.
Our challenge as adults is to help our teens cross the bridge from childhood to adulthood, to encourage them to embrace their developmental destiny and to ultimately shoehorn them into adult society. Meanwhile, we have the day -to-day challenge of parenting and teaching them, of guiding and directing them, of shielding them from stress.
Adolescence is truly the womb of adulthood and those enveloped in supportive adult relationships have the greatest chance of successfully negotiating this tumultuous time. The challenge is not to treat them as if they were children nor to retreat from them as if they were adults. Learning to ‘dance’ with an adolescent commands the very best in us.
Heather, you are truly amazing, gifted in skill and spirit and generosity to guide us all through this next amazing journey, which I now look forward to with excitement and confidence.
Interested in this course?
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Adolescence and Sexuality
Today’s adolescents live in a hypersexualized culture. Most have receive a school-based sex education where safe sex typically refers to physical intimacy that is free of sexually transmitted diseases or unwanted pregnancy. Despite their greater exposure and education, current evidence suggests that many youth are in trouble sexually and that their sexual development is not unfolding as it should.
In this course, Dr. Neufeld examines sexuality through the lenses of attachment, maturation and vulnerability. He sheds light on why adolescents are losing their timidity, why sexual interaction is on the rise, and why sexual bullying is becoming a problem. He explores the meaning of safe sex from an attachment-based developmental perspective and provides suggestions for contributing to the healthy unfolding of sexuality in our youth.
This course has been developed for all those involved with today’s teens including parents, teachers and helping professionals. It is also useful preparation for parents of pre-teens. The course is highly recommended for all those who are involved int eh sexual education of our youth, whether formally in school or more significantly at home.
Session 1: The Sexualization of Attachment: The Design
Session 2: Sexualization of Attachment: The Deviations
Session 3: Sexuality and Adolescent Vulnerability
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