After reworking my original teen brain workshop for one of my Youth Communication workshops on identity, I realized that it might make sense to link the two versions together as a look at the downsides and upsides of the teenage years. A really good example of the two sides of adolescence is how teenagers can be especially tight-lipped with their parents, but can spend hours shooting the breeze or sharing their deepest secrets with friends. Both these actions fall squarely within two “tasks of adolescence”: separating oneself from one’s family or origin and establishing peer relationships.

On the one hand, adolescence is a challenging and tumultuous period for even the most well-adjusted individuals, but if one takes the “tasks of adolescence” to heart, it can also be an exciting period of self-discovery/self-invention (depending on your view of identity), where young people gain increasing independence while at the same time forming new relationships with friends, family, and potential partners. This approach to adolescence is in line with my effort to sell young people on the idea that the transition to adulthood can be both empowering and rewarding if one doesn’t fall into the trap of viewing adulthood merely as all-work and/or all-play.


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