On the 14th of July, I wrote about never stop cherishing children even when they stopped being cute (article here). It is indeed human nature to cuddle and fuss over cute things, be it a puppy or children, but when they stop being cute, we withdraw our benevolence. Yet, perversely enough, this is when they need our protection more than ever emotionally and mentally.

Yesterday, BBC ran an article in the news about how vulnerable the teenage brain is to damage.The extract from Cambridge University is here. Though much of the physical growth of the human brain is done in younger years, it is during the teenage years that they grow in complexity.We can damage these developing brains so very easily with cruelty from  unkind words. The brain gets rewired differently depending on what it is exposed to during these crucial development stage.

Oh, how easily we damage fragile young minds, and have such a devastating effect on their lives!

Yes, we have to protect our un-cute teenagers. The man-child and the child-woman struggling to cope with the changes in their bodies and the scary outside world. I am a strong believer that we need to protect them from toxic relationships too at this phase.

This is why as parents, my children’s father and I played a strong part in our children’s first adult relationships – I write a lot about Family First. I’ve had friends of friends who are in asylums years after a traumatic break-up or changing gender orientation as the result of catastrophic first relationships. Though my relative young age was not an excuse, I broke my first boyfriend’s heart so badly that he never recovered properly, he had been in prison, his drug-taking spiralled out of control, he was disinherited and he had many failed relationships. He only gained some semblance of normality when he was in his forties: I have never been more sorry in my life for the damage I inflicted on a young man’s brain when I was sixteen.

I, on the other hand, had been really blessed that the first love of my life is a decent young man from the wrong side of London that I raised a big, happy family with. He has marked and influenced my life and the way I live greatly. This is how I have grown over the decades from a teenager to a woman in her late forties. Yes, it matters who shaped you.

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So it has become some sort of a crusade of mine to ensure that my children behave decently to their other halves. I wrote about it here and because this is such a joyful photo, I can’t resist adding it here:

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But I choose this photograph below to accompany this post because it showed happy, balanced young people in a mutually supportive relationship: my son Jack, my daughter’s boyfriend and their close friend, just hanging out, fixing Jack’s old car on a beautiful summer’s day after work. This becomes them ❤

Please be kind to teenagers. Your words and actions shape their future.

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Related articles: Never stop cherishing children

Why make life difficult for our kids?

and Changes in brain structure during teenage years provide clues to the onset of mental health problems