During adolescence, teens begin to figure out who they are and what their beliefs are. In this lesson, we'll look at how family values and relationships with family members can influence adolescents' individual values and development.
Clara is 15, and lately she's been wondering if the way she's always viewed the world is right. As a kid, she always trusted that the things her parents told her were right, like that small towns were better than big cities or that getting married and having kids is something everyone should do.
But lately, Clara has wondered if she agrees with her parents' ideas. She's started thinking about how much fun it would be to move into a big city, and she's wondering if she wants to get married and have kids, or if she'd be happier as a single, career woman.
Clara is in adolescence, or the time of life between childhood and adulthood, usually between ages 13 and 20. During this time, teens often begin to explore who they are and what the world means to them. Let's look at the way a family can influence an adolescent's teen years, including family values and family relationships.
Clara isn't sure whether the things that her parents believe are also the things that she believes. For example, her parents think that living in a small town is better than living in a big city, but Clara feels like a city girl and really wants to move to a big metropolis.
Does that mean that her parents are wrong? No, it just means that their values, or belief in what is important, are different from Clara's.
Before adolescence, most children do not question their parents' values. When a family agrees on a set of values, they are called shared values because everyone in the family shares them. For example, as a child, Clara shared the small-town values of her parents. All three of them, plus Clara's brother, Matt, shared those same values.
But as teens enter adolescence, they begin to question the values that they've been presented. This can lead to non-shared values, or when family members disagree on values, and therefore the entire family does not share the same values. Clara is a good example of this. As an adolescent, she's decided that urban living is better than small-town life for her.
Adolescence is a time of self-discovery, and a big part of this is figuring out what values an individual holds. Clara, like most teens, is discovering that all of her values are not shared values, and that's okay.
However, like most adolescents, Clara has also discovered that some of her values are non-shared and some are shared. For example, her parents always told Clara that it was very important to volunteer your time to help out people who are needy. That's a value that Clara continues to share with her parents, even as she figures out what values she doesn't share with them.
Values aren't the only thing that's changing as Clara ages. The relationships with her parents and brother are also changing. When she was a kid, Clara always got along with them. Even if she disagreed with her parents, she often didn't say anything about it. Now, though, she's being more outspoken, and even little things seem to cause arguments with her parents or her brother, Matt.
Adults have to balance autonomy, or being independent, with interdependence, or relating to others. This is not a balance that people are born with. In fact, children are usually high in interdependence but fairly low in autonomy.
Take Clara, for example: not only did she used to get along really well with her family, she also didn't really feel independent. In elementary school, she depended on her parents to make her dinner and watch after her. And when her parents weren't around, Matt babysat her and made sure that she had everything she needed.
But Clara can't live like that forever. It's important that she learn how to take care of herself, so that when it's time for her to move out and on her own, she knows how to be autonomous.
Fighting with parents and siblings is a common occurrence in adolescence. Many teens find that they fight constantly with their family members. Though it can be stressful, this is actually a good thing. Clara, and adolescents like her, are exploring boundaries and learning to be independent. Arguing is part of their process of building autonomy to be successful adults.
Adolescence is the period of life between childhood and adulthood. During that time, a teenager begins to explore their personal values, including which shared values and which non-shared values they have in common with their family. Further, arguing with family members becomes more frequent during adolescence, a sign that the teen is moving towards the adult balance of autonomy and interdependence.
When this lesson is over, you should be able to:
- List the difficulties of adolescence
- Identify the changes in shared or non-shared values
- Recognize the need for a balance between autonomy and interdependence