Each individual is either cursed or blessed with an assortment of genetic traits that makes all of us unique. This is an obvious statement to be sure, still, the complexity of this enormous collection of genetic programming boggles the mind of almost anyone that might choose to explore its depths. Even with this potential for unlimited genetic variety, and even in the presence of any number of significant guiding influences, humans remain unique to each other. However, it can be argued that environmental experiences have a greater impact on the personality of an individual than genetic influences. Factors such as culture from macro to micro, social norms and traditions, religious affiliation, education, family upbringing, and physical and mental health to name a few, inexorably sort unique human personalities into easily recognizable social categories and behavioral patterns.
Thus, it is with the children in our course book. Even within limitations: same country, region, state, city, neighborhood, and school, each of these children experience their personal environment through the lens of an even finer scope. The micro-culture of the home, with its own rules, values, and role models, and the external forces of socio-economic status and neighborhood livability, to name a few, all play a role in the functionality of a family system. Add to this mix parenting styles, peer pressure, role models, and hormones, there is little wonder that adolescents are confused, conflicted, and prone to wild swings in their ability to function well and make critical judgments.
Therefore, Jessica, a sweet girl by my measurement, is tossed about in this tempest of psychosocial experiences – with its multitude of conflicting ideals, mores, and temptations. It should most certainly be noted that even adults in this type of social dynamic are far from able to make sense of the world even in times of calm reflection.
So, imagine the chaotic existence that Jessica or any teenager endures in the face of the afore mentioned influences. Without the benefit of having any experience in the ways of the world, adolescents, even with nurturance and guidance, are often challenged to work out their own ways for co-existing with that world, and in many cases, accomplish this task on their own. Is it any wonder then that young adults often crash about from crisis to crisis? More importantly, does any of this sound familiar to we adults? Can we remember our own trials of youth? Jessica, I feel, managed fairly well in the environment that formed around her.
Observing Jessica’s maturation from the perspective of my own youth, she very likely dodged a number of the bullets that I had stepped in front of and that had quickly brought me down. She was tempted by peer pressure to break rules, lie, get high, have sex, and...