All people experience a considerable change in their cognitive and social behavior during adolescence which ultimately impacts their future life. As a result, every individual has a story about their transformation during that period. Personally, I would not like to disclose my private information, but my aunt Jane told me her adolescence story, which is particularly interesting to analyze from a scientific perspective. Aunt Jane was the first child for her parents, but she also has a younger sister, Mary, who is twelve years younger. The household composition at the moment of the story, which will be presented below, consisted of Jane’s parents, mother and father, and her sister. Jane never had any developmental or health-related issues or events which could potentially influence her adolescence. The family lived in a relatively large city, and Jane had a positive relationship with all of the family members before the age of fourteen when she started to distance herself from the relatives. Thus, the story will concern the moment when aunt Jane decided to seek autonomy which ultimately negatively affected her relations with her mother and father.
Jane’s Significant Event
As mentioned earlier, Jane did not experience any major changes in her behavior until she turned fourteen. Jane’s family was considered to be affluent since both parents had jobs in the banking industry, and they tried to ensure that their daughter had everything she needed. Jane went to a private school where she was taught several foreign languages and had tutors who worked with students individually, helping them understand certain subjects better. As a result, Jane was an excellent student and was praised by her teacher for being determined, patient, and dedicated to her studies. Due to the fact that Jane’s parents had jobs, she often did not receive much attention from them since they had to leave for work early and came home late at night. Thus, most of her time Jane spent with her caregiver, a middle-aged woman who was fluent in French and was hired when Jane was three years old. Jane was always respectful towards the caregiver, and there were no problems or incidents whatsoever.
Despite the fact that Jane’s parents usually could not focus all of their attention on raising her, they still managed to find some time to spend with their daughter. They allocated all of their weekends to activities with Jane; for instance, they played bowling together or went to Disneyland. Additionally, parents wanted to show different places on the planet to their daughter and, therefore, traveled abroad to various countries and to the U.S. cities every year. During their trips or on weekends, Jane never had any fights with her parents and always listened to them and did what they asked her to do. In summer, on school holidays, Jane often went to live with her grandmother in another city for several weeks. Her grandmother was a former high-school history teacher, and she told Jane stories about the past of the United States, as well as described to her various world events. Jane loved her grandmother, and their relationship was strong, and they never had any problems or arguments.
Before Jane went to school, she did not have any friends, and the only peers she met were children of patents’ colleagues who occasionally came for dinner to discuss business-related issues. During elementary school, she finally found friends among her peers and often invited them to her house to play together. Erica is the girl with whom Jane became extremely close and shared all of her secrets. The girls remained best friends even throughout middle school and even traveled around the United States together with their parents. Erica and Jane shared the same interests; they collected Teddy bears and liked to listen to pop music, as well as tried cooking different meals together. For a long time, Erica was the only friend of Jane, yet she also maintained a good relationship with her classmates whom she always invited to her birthday parties. When Jane was twelve, Mary, her sister, was born, whom all family members and other relatives were excited to see. Jane also was actively trying to help parents to care for the newborn but soon stopped doing it.
When Jane turned fourteen and entered the ninth grade, she found new friends and spent less time with Erica, with whom she no longer shared any interests. Erica wanted to become a scientist and follow the career of her mother; subsequently, she spent a lot of time studying, while Jane, who remained a diligent student throughout middle school, wanted to party. Jane’s family moved to another neighborhood, and she changed her school, where she made new acquaintances among the local students. Additionally, Jane’s caregiver stopped working for the family because she found another job, and the parents did not find a person to replace her. Moreover, Jane’s parents were now spending all of their free time with Mary, and the only opportunity to receive attention from them for Jane was when the family was on holiday. Nevertheless, since Mary was still little, the family did not risk traveling long distances and preferred to stay at home most of the time.
As mentioned earlier, Jane made friends in the new school with whom she began to go to parties, not coming back home until the late evening. Jane’s parents were extremely worried about their daughter and began to warn her about the possible dangers of being alone among strangers and staying late into the night. They even prohibited her from going out, but she often neglected their restrictions when parents were not home and Mary was away with her babysitter. Jane’s changed behavior ultimately impacted her school achievement since she no longer concentrated on doing her homework and her grades became visibly worse as a result. Parents were so busy at work and taking care of the younger daughter that they did not even check Jane’s performance at school. They were used to believing that their older daughter was an excellent student and found asking her about her grades simply unnecessary. Yet, after the first two months at the new school, one of the teachers contacted Jane’s parents and told them about their daughter’s poor attitude performance.
After learning about Jane’s activity at school, the parents decided to talk to her, but the conversation did not produce any results since Jane simply ignored all questions and stayed silent. Moreover, the event had an opposite effect because Jane became extremely hostile towards her parents and refused to do what they asked her to. Jane started to act in an inappropriate manner at home; for instance, she played music loudly when Mary was sleeping. She even refused to let her parents drive her to school because her friends told her that it was childish. One morning, her mother sensed the smell of cigarette smoke coming from Jane’s jacket and found a lighter in her pocket. When confronted about smoking, Jane intentionally said that she consumed a pack of cigarettes a day simply to make her mother angry, despite the fact that Jane never smoked. Eventually, the relationship between the parents and Jane reached a point when the latter was denied to have any pocket money.
Yet, the event which ultimately forever changed the relationship between Jane and her parents occurred before her fifteenth birthday when she decided to leave home. Jane was a fan of rock music, and her ultimate dream during her adolescence was to become a musician and look like her heroes. Jane even bought a guitar, learned to play several songs, and created a band with her friends from school. The majority of times, when she stayed late and did not come home in the afternoon, she practiced playing new songs. One week before she turned fifteen, she decided to run away from home and live at her friend’s house where she could play. Jane’s parents could find their daughter for three days and had to call the police to help them to conduct a search. On the fourth day, the police found Jane at her friend’s house and took her home. Eventually, the parents hired a family psychologist who helped them rebuild their relationship with Jane.
An Analysis of Jane’s Significant Event
The case of Jane, which was presented above, is particularly interesting for assessing it from different theoretical perspectives developed by various researchers. First of all, it must be noted that the case itself has numerous aspects which are best described and analyzed with the help of particular theories and approaches. Thus, the assessment will involve applying certain theories to separate episodes from the story in order to achieve a better understanding of the changes and their nature that emerged during Jane’s adolescence.
It is clear that the main event in the story took place when Jane turned fourteen and went to a new school since, around this time, she started distancing herself from her parents. From a psychological perspective, such behavior can be described as detachment which constitutes a process when adolescents limit their emotional links to their parents and other authority figures such as teachers (Steinberg 239). In other words, young people decide to end the period when they were children and were heavily dependent on their parents to survive and generally navigate in day-to-day life. Jane is an example of an adolescent who made a decision to stop being open with her parents and did not even share any of her problems at school with them. Moreover, she did not even tell them about her new passion for playing guitar and did not mention anything about her band.
Jane’s case only proves the fact that during adolescence, young people experience considerable changes in their relationship with parents and may radically transform their attitude towards them. Nevertheless, detachment is only one way of describing Jane’s relations with her parents. It is possible to view the event as individuation or development of Jane’s emotional autonomy, which ultimately enabled her to avoid sharing any information with her parents (Steinberg 239). Essentially, individuation made Jane be overprotective of her personal emotions and events in life, which she believed were private and event parents were not allowed to learn about them. In other words, Jane started to differentiate between the aspects of her own life which do not concern parents and those which are family-related.
Another noteworthy detail about Jane’s story is the fact that she found new friends at the new school. Moreover, she stopped maintaining any relationship with her best friend Erica, with whom she shared all of her secrets in the past. Research shows that another factor that contributes to adolescents’ development of emotional autonomy is the growing number of friends whom their parents do not know (Steinberg 240). Essentially, young people gain new acquaintances; they tend to avoid talking about them with their parents. Due to the fact that Jane went to a new school and managed to find people who shared the same interests as her there, her demand for privacy increased. Additionally, she enjoyed playing in a band with them, and it is possible to assume that she perceived it as her personal business in which parents should not interfere.
There is no doubt that the new friends also influenced Jane’s sudden change in behavior, and their presence accelerated her detachment and possibly even worsened it. The concept of peer pressure is a popular one, and it is likely that this factor played a major role in Jane’s case. According to studies, peer pressure can significantly affect the way a young person perceives certain anti-social behaviors and increases the probability of adolescents engaging in activities such as fighting and smoking (Farrell 1351). It is natural for adolescents to form groups according to the same interests and perform certain actions together. Jane described how new friends told her that her parents driving Jane to school looked childish. As a result, she asked her parents to stop doing it and went to school herself each morning. Such evidence shows that her peers had a considerable influence on Jane and ultimately could shape her unwillingness to maintain communication with her parents.
Many researchers presented their theories on adolescence and provided their explanations of certain phenomena which tend to occur in the life of the majority of people during this period. Kohlberg described three stages of every person’s moral development, and the third one, post-conventional, is of particular interest for the current case. Essentially, Kohlberg claimed that at the post-conventional level, people start to critically examine conventions and rules in society and begin to question those ones which they find unjust (Kjellström 151). The post-conventional period coincides with early adolescence and ultimately helps understand the reason why many young people at this age become rebellious and refuse to take orders from their parents or other authority figures. Such an approach perfectly describes the actions of Jane in relation to her parents and a sudden change in her behavior. When Jane turned fourteen, she finally realized that the rules established by the parents for her, namely diligent studying and avoidance of any activity without prior notification, were unjust towards her. Jane decided to live according to the rules, which she found more fitting and fairer for her.
Another theory that also can help gain a better understanding of Jane’s case was developed by Erikson, who described the mechanisms governing adolescents’ unusual behavior. Namely, the researcher claimed that adolescence constitutes a period when people start to form their identities and, as a result, they face an identity crisis as well as role confusion (Kerpelman and Pittman 307). Ultimately, an identity crisis involves searching for a place in the world that would be the most appropriate and comfortable one for a person. During this time, young people tend to develop passions for different activities which they could potentially do as adults. In the case of Jane, her passion was rock music, and she wanted to become a musician and even formed a band with her classmates. Moreover, before she turned fourteen, Jane was an exemplary student who liked pop music and collecting Teddy bears. Jane’s radical change in her interests can be explained by an identity crisis and her willingness to experiment in order to find her role in life.
Finally, a factor that could have the most significant impact on Jane’s behavior and rapid development of emotional autonomy is her parents’ focus on her younger sister, Mary. Jane was used to being the only child in the family and the one who received all of the attention of her parents. Moreover, parents always strived to spend all of their free time with Jane, yet when Mary was born, the older daughter no longer received her share of attention. It is possible that Jane’s behavior could be explained by her desire to punish her parents for not spending their time with her. Additionally, Jane also demonstrated aggression towards her sister by playing music loudly when Mary was asleep. Researchers say that many older siblings are often mean towards the younger ones during adolescence (Steinberg 110). Thus, Jane’s behavior was not abnormal for her age and can be easily described from different scientific perspectives.
Farrell, Albert et al. “Dimensions of Peer Influences and Their Relationship to Adolescents’ Aggression, Other Problem Behaviors, and Prosocial Behavior.” Journal of Youth and Adolescence, vol. 46, 2017, pp. 1351–1369. Web.
Kerpelman, Jennifer, and Joe Pittman. “Erikson and the Relational Context of Identity: Strengthening Connections with Attachment Theory.” Identity, vol. 18, no. 4, 2018, 306–314. doi:10.1080/15283488.2018.1523726.Web.
Kjellström, Sofia et al. “Value Systems Among Adolescents: Novel Method for Assessing Level of Ego-Development. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, vol. 58, no. 2, 2017, pp. 150–157. Web.
Steinberg, Laurence. Adolescence. 11th ed. McGraw-Hill Publishing Company, 2011.