Mind the age gap

Talking to your teenaged kids right from their formative years is imperative to develop a strong foundation.

Recently, a 23-year old in Peru allegedly committed suicide by emulating Netflix’s popular series 13 Reasons Why. She left behind a series of audio recordings exactly like the protagonist, Hannah Baker. The show has gained popularity all around the world, and several people are worried about the series’ depiction of troubling issues affecting teenagers like bullying, depression and suicide.

Another disturbing aspect that surfaced was the lack of connect between teenagers or young adults and their parents. Parents are often clueless about what is going on in the lives of their children and therefore unable to tell their mental state. The inability to spot signs of depression or suicidal tendencies is something that can be addressed, psychologists and behavioural experts point out. But, where does one begin?

Teacher and a mother of two, Neetal Shelar, thinks developing a connection with the child is important since this can help kids openly discuss things that are ailing their mind. “Of course, talking to your child is the only way to go about it. Speak to them about anything and everything and keep it easy. Spending quality time with them and developing a strong bond is necessary to enable conversations around such subjects. The trick is to not dive into the issue suddenly,” she says.

Sneha Subhedar, a professor of media studies at Symbiosis University, who comes with over a decade of experience in dealing with young adults concurs. “You cannot just wake up one Sunday and approach your child to talk about what’s happening with them and if at all something is bothering them. You must take it slow, really slow. Parents must begin right from their formative years by simply talking. I have discovered that the easiest way to get to know what is happening is by asking,” she says.

Author Kiran Manral points out that today, the challenges faced by teenagers and young adults are different from what they were just a decade ago. “Today, with the Internet and extensive connectivity, children even have to tackle new issues altogether. Back in my day, we didn’t have a certain Netflix giving us ideas about suicide and bullying!”

That said, can monitoring your child’s activities, both online and otherwise help to know what is happening? Sneha says yes. “It isn’t new. A lot of parents take up to social media sites like Facebook and Instagram to keep track of their child’s activities. This, however, doesn’t mean you stalk them every hour of the day and question their decisions because honestly, that will turn them off and keep them from sharing anything with you,” she advises.

“The young generation shares a lot on the Internet, a lot more than we, as their parents and guardians can fathom. So, it can always help to be around them online even though they don’t come and discuss things outright with you,” she

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