As a child and adolescent psychiatrist I’m in a unique position. Young people walk in my office, sit down, and open their hearts. Soon their secrets spill out: I was drugged and raped. I’m sleeping with my best friend’s fiancee. My girlfriend had an abortion. I want to die.
I’ve spent the past thirty years of my professional life listening to these, and many other tales, so I have some expertise about the lives of teens and young adults. Their number one problem? Romance.
There’s a lot for them to figure out, but they’re utterly lost. What do I want, and how do I get it? How do I deal with peer pressure and navigate the hook-up culture? Are there consequences to sex, or is it just about fun? What’s normal? What’s not?
Please know, these are kids who by and large do well in other areas. They’re successful at school and with friends; some of them are accomplished musicians and athletes. But romance? That’s where they’re thrown off-track, and there are lots of tears, anger, and regret.
I often wonder to myself, I know this kid has responsible, loving parents…where are they?