Adolescence is a period in which a number of social problems crop up. The social contacts of the person expand from infancy to maturity.
In infancy a child’s social contacts are with one person, usually its mother. From the early childhood onwards the mother-child relationship normally expands as the child comes into contact with the other members of family.
When the child moves outside his family circle, he establishes contact with other children of his own age. These children from his peer group when he takes admission in the school the peer group expands because now the child is free to choose his own friends and associates.
Here he meets his teacher. As he enters adolescence he becomes a part of the gang, whatever be the stage of development of other people from his social environment. Adolescence is the stage of development which produces a number of problems for the person. These problems arise out of the adolescent’s adjustment with following social group:
(c) associates of one’s own sex; and
(d) Associates of the other sex.
Social Problems Raised by the Parents
During adolescent years the boy or girl tends to develop interests for groups outside the family. The youngsters commonly have misgivings about the changes that are taking place in their interests.
On the one hand, they feel joy in being dependent upon their parents and on the other; the experiences with their peers are also pleasant. The peer group attracts them a greater force, because it offers them esteem and status which is either lacking in the family or is not got there at all.
Parents generally complicate the problem by placing demands on the adolescent sons or daughters. When they come to know that the relationship between them and their children is about to change, when they find their children are becoming more rebellious, less responsive, and less involved in the life of the family they feel threatened.
Every father or mother thinks that his son or daughter is a psychological extension of himself, and when the adolescent slips along into the outside world, he or she feels that he or she is losing a part of himself or herself.
As the adolescent becomes more independent he needs not so much care, direction, and attention of his parents, which parents still think necessary for his existence and well-being. The emotionally insecure parents are unable to face and accept this fact. The adolescent may feel the need of parental love, care and attention at certain times, but he is so proud of himself that he does not want to accept these things.
He looks upon any form of dependence as a sign of weakness. This is the reason why there is a conflict going on between the adolescent and his parents. The conflict is of the approach avoidance type; it is so because he wants love and direction, at the same time wants to be strong and self-sufficient enough not to need love and direction.
The adolescent resolves such a conflict by making decisions which are not in his interest and defends them stubbornly and rebelliously in the face of all adult opposition.
The loyalties of the adolescent are now divided between the family and the peer group. This division causes tension and anxieties in the adolescent and creates differences between him and his parents.
The struggle that goes on within the adolescent is seldom known to most parents. The struggle is caused by his attempt to live in accordance with a double standard composed of the expectations of his parents and those of his associates.