Academic journal article College Student Journal

The Adolescent Quest for Autonomy: Renegotiating a Cordial Relationship

Academic journal article College Student Journal

The Adolescent Quest for Autonomy: Renegotiating a Cordial Relationship

Article excerpt

At adolescence, the young one sees himself already as a miniature adult, and would want to express the autonomy that goes with it. Even though parents may recognize this and would want some measure of freedom for their adolescent children, they are not unaware too that a lot of exuberance goes with adolescence. Most parents are aware that, young ones are most times susceptible to negative activities like the illegal use of drugs, alcohol and tobacco, and illicit sex affairs amongst others and need to be carefully guided. However, the thrust in this article is not to condemn this autonomous posture of adolescents but strive to bridge the gap otherwise created by their restive attitude. In the light if this, the writer seeks the collaboration of parents as well as educational reform efforts in re-negotiating a more cordial relationship in the adolescents' quest for autonomy.


"Daddy, I'm old enough to make decisions for myself"

"Mum, at sixteen I think I know what I'm doing"

"Mummy, I don't like your choice of dresses when I wear them, I look like a 'Mother Theresa"

"You mean at eighteen I cannot go for night parties, so at what age am I permitted?"

These are familiar statements made by adolescents in arguments with parents and other older ones. On the part of the parents it is a continuous battle, even when the posture of the adolescents is almost one of daggers-drawn.

The adolescents search for autonomy is endless. The parents too, forget so soon that they were once adolescents. They are in a hurry to wear boxing gloves to slog it out with their adolescent children. The thrust of this article is the need to be extra careful in handling the whims and caprices of these young ones as it is often said in the Nigerian local parlance "it is with caution that we eat hot soup".

At this stage of physical sexual and emotional development, most adolescents see themselves as miniature adults. They believe that are old enough to handle matters on their own Hall (1904) has described the world of the adolescent as a distinct phase of life, indeed a period characterized by 'storm' and 'stress'. Reviewing this fact within the context of their search for autonomy, it is almost obvious that the experience would be one of a painful adjustment. In other words, the relationship between these teenagers and their parents or older ones would be one of definitions of what behavior is appropriate and inappropriate. The aim is with a view to re-establishing a more cordial relation between parents and their teens. Of importance too, in this work is to establish the fact that the supposedly generation gap is quite less wide as is oftentimes thought it is also hoped that a study of this nature will help adults recognize this period of adolescence as a special transitional period that needs careful attention; it goes a long way to make or mar adulthood in the individual.


Adolescence is a developmental stage that lies between childhood and adulthood. It begins and ends imprecisely, starting just before the teenage years and ending just after then. It is a transitional period of about six years during which the individual is "suspended" between childhood and adolescence. It is important to note too, that the definition of adolescence is also a reflection of the nature of society's treatment of this period. Generally, one can say society considers adolescents as a group of people at a given period of physical, sexual, emotional and intellectual maturity, who are no longer children, nor strictly adults. However it should be noted too, that this transitional period varies from culture to culture. But on the whole it can be defined as the time when these young ones begin to function independently of their parents.

This distinct phase of life, in the explanation of Kett (1977) was recognized in the early years of the 19th century. …

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