From Puberty to Adulthood

hqdefaultIn the very early embryo there is little visible evidence of what he or she will eventually look like. At this stage of life all individuals look the same. Nevertheless, the genetic material in the chromosomes, which have come from the mother’s egg and father’s sperm cells, is beginning to work and whether or not an individual will become a superb athlete or a slightly built dancer is already decided. Environmental factors, both during the time in the womb and after birth, may cause changes in the eventual appearance of a mature adult but, in the main, the pattern is fixed and is already taking shape.

Although the sex of the baby is decided at conception, the foetus is not recognizably male or female until the seventh week. By this stage the germ cells, which make up the sex glands, have come together to form the testes in the male child and the ovaries in the female. During the remaining months of life in the uterus, the testes make their way slowly down the body of the male foetus into the groin and eventually into the scrotum. The final descent into the scrotum is sometimes delayed until well after birth. This condition is known as undescended testes. The female ovaries likewise descend in the developing body cavity, but they stop in the pelvic region where they remain for the rest of the individual’s life.

The importance of the sex glands is that they produce hormones-chemical substances-which bring about the formation of the external sexual characteristics of male and female. The male hormones, mainly testosterone, are produced by the adrenal gland and by the testes. The female hormones, oestrogens, are also produced by the adrenals and by the ovaries. Male and female hormones arc not present in any significant quantity at the beginning of life. They make their appearance at puberty when the ovaries and the testes become active. Whether a baby is to be a male or female child is decided by the fact that, in the case of a boy, male hormones bring about the development of the scrotum.

The female child, lacking male hormones, is born with unfused labia instead of a scrotum and a small clitoris instead of a penis. These differences apart, the physical form of a male and female child is identical. For this reason, although doting parents may feel that their infant looks just like the boy (or girl) he (or she) is, the unbiased observer may be forgiven for mistaking the baby’s gender. The similarity in external physical appearance continues in early childhood. With the onset of puberty, however, physical changes begin to take place. The actual age of puberty varies widely but, in any given population, tends to be earlier in girls than in boys. The mechanisms by which these changes arc brought about are shown below.

The speed with which puberty changes take place also varies a great deal. The earlier physical development of girls in their early teens is often reflected in their mental attitudes, which tend to be more mature than boys of equal age. Interest in the opposite sex usually starts earlier in girls, but, here again, individuals vary considerably. A group of normal fourteen-year-old girls, for example, may vary from a physically and emotionally immature girl-child to full-blown voluptuousness.

Environment plays an important part in both physical and mental development. Good nutrition encourages the growth of good physique, whilst education and parental influence play an important part in psychological attitudes. Puberty is a time of change and is often a time of trial for the individual concerned. A knowledge of the changes that are taking place and an understanding approach by older members of a family help to smooth the sometimes difficult path from childhood, through the turbulence of adolescence, to adulthood.

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Preparing Your Child Or Teenager For Adulthood

One of the greatest gifts you as a parent can give your child or teen is the ability to handle their emotions. Said another way, teaching children how to identify, reflect on, and deal with their feelings by the time they leave home is one of the best ways to prepare them for adulthood. In fact, it is my opinion that emotional strength and ability will take a person much farther in life than intellectual ability or a specific ability (like athletic or artistic ability).

So what does it mean to identify and handle feelings? Well, to identify feelings simply means to name them accurately. To handle feelings means to sit with them and be able to tolerate the intensity of them. But how is it that teaching your child/teen to do these two things will prepare them for adulthood? The brief answer is that the events in anyone’s life stir up all kinds of intense feelings inside them. If a child/teen cannot tolerate and handle intense feelings, then acting impulsively or avoiding/withdrawing may be done, often to their detriment. So let’s look at this issue in some detail.

To identify feelings is not a simple thing. In fact, in my work as a psychologist I find that not only children and adolescents but most adults have a hard time accurately identifying their feelings. For example, when I ask clients what they are feeling about a situation, words like “upset” and “frustrated” are common responses. And while those are certainly words that describe emotions, they don’t go very far in terms of detail. In fact, it’s similar to someone looking at a buffet in a restaurant and saying there is “food” rather than naming the many different food items. So for a person to say, “I’m feeling upset,” actually implies the possibility of many different feelings.

To handle feelings is also not a simple thing. Feelings can range from weak to strong in intensity. It’s when feelings get strong in intensity that they become hard to handle. At that point feelings become like a “hot potato” and need to be gotten rid of quickly. In other words, when feelings get too intense is when children/teens will often say and do things like misbehave, throw a fit, talk back, withdraw, etc. So one way to keep a child/teen from misbehaving, withdrawing, etc. is to increase their ability to tolerate their feelings; that is, the greater their capacity for sitting with intense feelings the less likely they are to need to get rid of them (discharge them) via misbehavior.

How do you as a parent help your child/teen tolerate their feelings more so they are less likely to act out? You can think of it as a two step process. First, help them identify what they are feeling by asking them directly. (If they say, “I don’t know,” then you can make guesses with them at what they might be feeling.) Second, “be there” with them, that is, sit with them and stay engaged mentally with them for a brief time. (Keep in mind that just by being with them, whether it’s one minute or thirty minutes, communicates that you aren’t scared off by the intensity of what they are feeling.)

Okay, so now that you know a little more about how to help your child/teen identify and handle their feelings, how can this be helpful in terms of preparing them for adulthood? Put simply, their increased ability to identify and handle feelings will allow them to be more patient when confronted by situations in adulthood that cause intense emotions in them. And more patience will lead to them being more likely to mentally sit back and reflect on possible solutions to the situation in front of them. And of course, more patience and more reflection on most situations in life will lead to better outcomes.

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A Few Realizations Upon Reaching “Adulthood”

It is safe to say that all of us were young once. For the lucky ones who did not have to grow up immediately (I count myself among the fortunate) those were the days of carefree youth, unencumbered by the concerns of the world. We often looked to our parents and guardians to figure out the “trivial” stuff, like where to live and how to make money so we could buy the stuff we need. Now and then, we would get conscripted to do some chores and tasks for the sake of the family such dishwashing, taking out the trash, mowing the lawn, etc. Aside from the errands and school, our time was pretty much ours, free to be spent on our hobbies and interests.

As children, we would also run into disagreements with parents and other grownups. I’m not saying that the child is always the one on the wrong side of the argument, but more often than not, our naivete and ignorance on how the world “works” put us in odds with those that have been here longer. These conflicts did serve a purpose; these are opportune moments in which we learned practical and valuable lessons that we take with us on our journey to maturity.

Back then, it all sounded like incessant nagging, but as we gradually took on the duties and responsibilities of this so-called adulthood, we realize that our parents and elders actually had the right idea (or at the very least, they meant well). They just wanted to pass on the life lessons that they found useful and thus, lived by.

Being a little over a quarter of a century old, I have just begun to experience these “aha!” moments when something my dad, mom, or another older relative said or did pops back into my consciousness. Though I sort of understood the principle or value in that lesson when I encountered it way back when, it only became “true” for me at that very instant. I’d like to share a choice handful of these adulthood epiphanies.

You Do Reap What You Sow

When I was younger, I really didn’t pay much attention to personal health and fitness. I wasn’t one of those athletic types, but neither was I considered particularly unhealthy in my eating habits and activity. I didn’t develop any particular attachment to any sport or physical activity (unless you consider couch surfing a sport).

Now, as the invincibility of the teenage years has thoroughly faded away, my figure is in jeopardy. I don’t aim to have a thin model-type physique (that’s not my body’s natural state), but I don’t want to change dress sizes either, and I found that my body isn’t as efficient in absorbing and getting rid of the junk food I feed it. I need to work out and watch what I eat, just to maintain my present figure.

One Saturday morning, while I was forty minutes into lightly jogging on a treadmill raised to a fifteen-degree incline (I’m more of a gym person than an outdoors person, I found out), I remembered what my Mom told me over a decade ago about finding a sport that I could enjoy, and to lay off the chips and dip while watching the television. You were right, Mom.

On Friends and Popularity

High school (at least where I attended) was one big popularity contest, and those that didn’t participate in this long-drawn pageant are cast by the wayside and branded as losers. I wasn’t one of those stereotypical high school cheerleaders, but as a teenager, I did exert a significant amount of effort and resources in fitting into the “in” crowd. I got invited to the parties that mattered, and I even hosted a couple of them myself. Because of this, I knew a lot of people in school and a lot of people knew me. That, I thought back then, mattered a lot.

Zooming back to the present, I find that I only have a handful of people whom I hang out with and consider real friends. These are the kind of people that are there for you even when things aren’t so good, and even when you are not at your best. Most of the cool friends I had in high school aren’t even in my Facebook profile.

The “aha!” moment hit me while I was sticking my fingers into a bowling ball; my close friend group held monthly bowling-and-dinner nights. I remember my dad telling me that having a lot of friends was alright, but having a few true friends that will stick it out with you through thick and thin is way better.

Lesson internalized, but because of the distraction, my ball rolled into the gutter.

Loving the Unlovable

When I was younger, I couldn’t stand brats, even though I was a bit of one myself. Back when I was thirteen, I tried to babysit a neighbor’s six-year-old because I wanted to make some extra cash. I didn’t last an hour (noisy shouting kid was noisy), and I actually called his parents to come back because I couldn’t stand their child, ruining their romantic dinner and my future as a babysitter.

Now, I have five nephews and nieces. Being the only girl and also the youngest, I am often saddled with nanny duties when my brothers are out with their wives on weekend getaways. Taking care of one rambunctious toddler is one thing, but two or more is considered a minor calamity, in my book.

My folks actually didn’t say anything specific about this, but I realize how much they had to put up with me when me and my brothers were little. Now, I get what they went through. Thanks for the patience and love, folks.

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Cystic Fibrosis in Adulthood – Challenges, Symptoms, and Treatments

Almost 20 to 30 years ago, people with cystic fibrosis did not survive to attain adulthood; untimely death was common with patients suffering from this disorder. Fortunately, there has been a dramatic change in today’s scenario; there have been many remarkable changes in the medical treatments.

Researchers have developed proper understanding of this condition and have also come up with improved treatment options. Today, children with cystic fibrosis have increased life expectancy and they do reach their adulthood. Most people having this condition are healthier today and are pursuing all their aims in life like you and me.

Patients with cystic fibrosis can also live up to middle age today and have a normal life, which seems to be a miracle. Healthy children and some adults are trying to pursue a career, indulge in leisure activities, have a family life and be happy, despite of the disease. But of course, adults in their advanced stages of cystic fibrosis are likely to have lesser opportunities – they usually have a shorter life and restricted lifestyle. However, these adults are likely to benefit from all the new improved treatments and therapies that can treat the condition and, minimize the symptoms of the same. Patients can now hope for improved scientific advancements and betterment of lives in the next few years.

However, let that not give us a blurred vision. We ought to be realistic in identifying the complications associated with the condition including progressive lung damage, breathing difficulties and premature death – the eventual results of this fatal condition if lung transplantation is not considered.

Cystic fibrosis is usually diagnosed in children, specifically infants and in teens. However, adults who were not formerly diagnosed with the condition can as well be diagnosed by expert health professionals. In adults with cystic fibrosis, some symptoms manifest as the tell-tale signs of the condition, such as:

Chronic asthma
Sinusitis
Allergies
Diarrhea
Problems with low body weight

Usually, sweat test or genetic tests can confirm the condition. It can sometimes be a challenging task to deal with the prospects of a life-shortening condition. It can be psychologically devastating as well and entails some added treatments that are intricate and time consuming during such a demanding condition in their life. Hospitalization is often needed for patients. Initial IV antibiotic treatment is given for improvement.

However, it is a relief to be properly diagnosed with the condition, as diagnosis can only lead to proper treatments, which is extremely essential.

Adult Cystic Fibrosis Treatments

Treatment in adults is the same as that of the treatments available today for children and teens. The therapies involved for treating cystic fibrosis are very important for adults along with the conventional medicines available. Extensive damage is caused to the lungs inevitably which makes the condition even more severe than in teens. Therefore, it actually becomes extremely imperative for getting the required treatments and care in order to maintain proper health conditions.

There are various steps to be taken by an adult cystic fibrosis patient:

Balanced nutrition must be maintained
Normal body weight also needs to be maintained
The lungs must be kept free from the sticky mucus
Infections must be treated promptly
It is advised to visit a heath center that provides cystic fibrosis treatment and follows regularly

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The New Face of Adulthood: The Changing Journey Young Adults Are Taking

It may not seem all that long ago that the standard milestones of adulthood included going to college, leaving home, and being independent. The experience of being on your own and feeling like an adult is a big deal for all of us in our lives as we feel we are embarking on a journey towards what we feel we were meant to do as a career. However, the millennial generation has seen a big change in what adulthood looks like now, with many twenty-something’s either moving back home or staying with their parents for a variety of reasons such as changes in social norms and a shrinking job market. This period is being referred to as Emerging Adulthood, and with it comes the need for an understanding of how young adults can thrive through challenges not previously experienced by previous generations.

Most adults forty and over recall their 20′s as one of the most challenging periods of their life, not just in figuring out what they wanted to do with their lives, but also in taking the steps in making it a reality and experiencing all the twists and forks in the road of adulthood. Studies are showing that young adults are currently paying a heavy price in seeking a college degree with a large number of them facing the dilemma of earning a degree without the guarantee of finding job to begin paying off their student loan. For many, returning home makes a heck of a lot of sense in the grand scheme of things. It’s no wonder that the thought of marriage and starting a family would be put on the back burner for a while. Additionally research shows that young adults view their college education not only as long term investment in achieving employment, income, and job security, but also in the sense of earning a degree as a milestone of adulthood.

Self-worth and family relationships can be significant issues that come up for young adults when they return home. Some millennials I have spoken with often describe a feeling of heaviness that they feel by trying to respect their parents while trying to live their own life. Living at home and still trying to maintain a sense of independence can be a bumpy road to travel as parents may expect them to follow rules they were living under while still in high school. For many young adults living at home while struggling financially with a student loan and not being able to find a job can leave them feeling hopelessness and seeking comfort by managing their depressed mood and anxiety with excessive marijuana and alcohol use.

When young adults realize that self-medicating isn’t helping them to deal with their problems, the option of seeking professional help by talking to someone can be the beginning of a turning point. Young adults may find the prospect of going to therapy awkward if they are expecting a therapist to be a stern parental figure, but it can be an opportunity to find a therapist who is encouraging of their desire for growth and independence. While substance abuse and addiction can be what brings young adults into treatment, the core issues of feeling stuck in between one stage of life and the next is of equal importance.

Treatment for young adults can include learning more effective ways to cope with stress in their life and mending strained relationships with their parents whom they depend on for financial and emotional support. Clients I have worked with have often found that I’m not a parental figure, as much as someone who is there for them and be present to hear their story and witness their movement towards growth. Therapy is also the opportunity for young adults to explore their identity outside of their family and who they are in the world. It isn’t uncommon for a young adult to have therapy sessions with their parents to work out the strain they may all be feeling with the delay in them being launched from the nest. Therapy helps young adults to discuss where they are in their lives and work on how they are in their separation process as an adult from their family, and how independent they are feeling as the dynamics in their family change into something in which they feel they are being treated as an adult. Clients I work with are putting the focus where it needs to be at this time of their life, which is on where they are and finding resilience and growth. Exploring the possibilities that come from individual choice helps many young adults to feel hope for their future, or develop a calming sense of peace by being assisted in narrowing down their choices rather than being overwhelmed by them.

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