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An article by Nicole DENIZOU
For me I find that what adolescence looks like most is at birth. At birth, the child is separated from its mother, between the child and its mother, there was an extraordinary binding organ: the placenta. The placenta provided everything necessary for its survival and filtered many dangerous substances circulating in the maternal blood. Without him, no life is possible before birth, but it is absolutely necessary to leave him to live.
The adolescent will gradually leave family protection as he once left his protective placenta, to in turn assume responsibilities, become an adult.

The Lobster Complex

Françoise Dolto speaks of this period as a period of extreme fragility. More child, not yet adult, period when danger is present because it is vulnerable, Françoise Dolto speaks of this fragility and illustrates it very well when talking about the lobster complex.
Lobsters, when they change shells, first lose the old one and remain defenseless, until they make a new one. For teenagers, it’s a bit the same. “Making a new shell costs so many tears and sweats that it’s a bit like “oozing” it.

As the teenage lobster secretes its new shell, parents should also renew themselves and renounce being, as before, the parent of a tiny child. If their child is in the process of being born to adulthood, they too should be born as parents of young adults. It’s not comfortable every day! You have to agree to “put yourself on hold” while remaining completely present whenever the young person needs it!

Lobster Congre

Meanwhile, there is always a congre who prowls to devour the teenage lobster.
The teen congre is all that threatens them, inside and outside, and what we often don’t think about.

“Congre may be the baby the teen was, who doesn’t want to disappear into him and is afraid of losing parental protection. He holds him back in childhood and prevents her from being born into adulthood. »
This will manifest itself in a lack of self-confidence, hence the importance of giving them responsibilities, encouraging them, setting goals, adopting language, behaviour that suits adults.

Valuing what it does well

  • To be able to ask, receive, refuse, give to avoid frustration.
  • Developing one’s ability to be present, to listen: to teach him that listening and hearing does not mean endorsing.
  • Knowing how to say real yeses and real nos
  • Avoid personal projections and value judgments
  • Recognize him as a person in the making and able to progress
  • Let our discourse be consistent with our actions.
  • Avoid unfulfilled promises; commitments should not be one-way.

“Congre can also be the angry child who believes that by “eating” the adult one becomes an adult. It is the desire to assert oneself. It is essential never to take for yourself the aggression of a teenager, it belongs to him and is the sign of something he does not know how to say otherwise. It is essential to tell him:

“What you’re doing touches me, but it doesn’t destroy me and it doesn’t destroy our relationship. The teen needs to find in front of him an adult who stands, who exists, who is clear and consistent in his beliefs and his functioning. To the extent that the adult is a safe haven, the young person recognizes his or her authority.
Our responsibility is limited to the message that we send, the way we send it, the way we receive what is being emitted from the other. The more security we give a teenager, the less aggressive he will be.

Need for benchmark and authority


“Congre may still be these dangerous, sometimes profiteering adults who are prowling around teenagers because they feel vulnerable.”
Without experience, without protection, it is an easy prey. He will sometimes tend to compensate for his lack of defense by sudden and varied changes in attitudes, excessive behaviors, even deviant.

Let’s teach him to protect himself, to defend himself. Let’s set rules, limits, safeguards. Let’s be here! It is essential to meet your needs:

  • Need for independence and listening
  • Need for emotional and psychological security, and therefore benchmarks to overcome the future
  • Need for self-esteem
  • Need for structure, organisation
  • Need for recognition: need for dignity (humiliation is always a harmful and ineffective tool)

Dialogue and communication

They are indispensable; even if it is painful for them to accept, to listen. It will be necessary to find a serious means of communication, without being moralistic or aggressive, without blackmail, playing rather the card of trust. The three pitfalls of communication to avoid (usually): flight, aggression and manipulation.
Empower him, treat him like an adult. Responsibility means accountability, accountability, coercion, vigilance… the authority will sanction if the rule is broken to provide protection. These are the acts that need to be rectified; never touch the person.
The secret of the harmony and the opening climate of this period lies in every word of this sentence: encouraging it to achieve independence while imposing reasonable rules.

Correct, resume

“Children, obey your parents… And you fathers, do not irritate your children, but raise them by correcting them and instructing them according to the Lord.”


Correcting a child is to bring him back to the rule, to what is reasonable, just, to ask him to rectify his actions, his behavior, his words, not to accept what is contrary to propriety, respect, politeness, respect of the republican law.

To resume sometimes with severity but also with a lot of love, is by no means to kick, to strike. Will I hit my own flesh? When I hit, I unload my aggression, but I don’t solve anything. No to wounds, humiliation, violent, misplaced words, anger, these are things that will not change anything and will make the climate worse. On the other hand, to have acts rectified, to seek redress, to return to non-negotiable rules, to be firm, to ask forgiveness for words spoken, that is a good correction.
Then teach, learn, pass on. You can only transmit what you know, what you have understood, what you control, what you think is reasonable, what you experience. What did the child learn in the home?


I like to read Paul’s greetings to Timothy: “Timothy my beloved child: may grace, mercy and peace be given to you by God the Father and Jesus Christ our Lord!” Do we ever say these words to our children? Do you know that they need to hear them, and we need to formulate them?
In any circumstance, our adolescent will remain our beloved child, and we will desire for him that grace, mercy and peace be given to him by God the Father and Jesus Christ our Lord, for this is vital for a successful life.

A life force

Adolescence is also a movement full of strength, of promise of life, of a forepour. This force is very important, it is the very energy of this transformation. Like shoots coming out of the ground, we need to “get out.” Maybe that’s why the word coming out is so important. To go out is to leave the cocoon that has become a bit stifling, it is also to have a romantic relationship. It is a key word that reflects the great movement that is shaking young people.


In bands they feel good, they have the same cues, a coded language of their own that allows not to use that of adults.
There is no adolescence without suffering, it is perhaps the most painful period of life. It is also the time of the most intense joys. The trap is that you want to run away from anything that is difficult. Fleeing outside of oneself by embarking on dubious or dangerous adventures, driven by people who know the fragilities of teenagers. Fleeing inside, barricaded behind a false shell.

Formal thinking

In the early years, the child’s thought was magical. In the latency period, he acquired a concrete logic. Around the age of 12, the young teenager will be able to reason in a deductive way, making assumptions and responding in the abstract. It is thanks to the birth of formal thought, or “hypothetico-deductive.” Having acquired this formal thought, he will use it to excess. He doesn’t need experience. This is the period when we remake the world, a very creative period but without support in reality. He acquired the adult intellect.

The adolescence of Jesus

Luke 2.41. In this passage, Jesus is twelve years old and we see all the concern he has aroused in his parents. Jesus skewed company for three days to his parents without warning them. “Here your father and I were looking for you with anguish.” He said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Don’t you know… but they did not understand what he was saying to them. »
Twelve years is the age at which Jewish children became religiously adults. Jesus did not escape, he acted like a teenager, he did not think to tell his parents that he was going to the temple. For him it made sense for them to know. But Mary and Joseph were not prepared for it; Jesus to them was still the child.

We will experience situations like this with our teenagers, situations that will surprise us, that will make us live in anguish. For them, it will seem natural to them, they will not understand that we are worried. This passage may be in the Bible to tell us parents that their behavior sometimes can surprise us, worry us, anguish us, but for them it is in the logical approach to adulthood and in this phase of self-assertion.

Hence the importance of establishing a relationship of trust, dialogue, in the family, in school, in society, it is a new life that begins and we will have to learn to manage it, it brings hope. Tell them that from now on we will no longer consider them children, BUT BIG, trust them: they are very sensitive to trust.

Last step

Adolescence is the last chance to address childhood conflicts and resolve them spontaneously. If these same conflicts subsequently occurred, it would be the domain of the pathological. The person would get seriously entangled in it. In fact, most adult pathologies hatch in adolescence. The structure of the personality is done during the first 5 years of life, but it can be redesigned in adolescence most often alone, i.e. with the immediate environment. Otherwise it falls apart in adolescence and the future adult will need public health help.

Understanding and guiding


The best way to manage the transition to adolescence is of course to try to understand the teenager! Parents, you’ve probably already told your child everything you expect from him at school or at home, but have you ever asked him what he’s looking for? Do you know his doubts, his problems? And it’s not just about understanding it, it’s also about helping it to see it more clearly. The adolescent does not necessarily see how he will find his place in this world, in the midst of unemployment, insecurity, precariousness. The parents and the animators are then there to explain to them the rules of the game of this adult world.

Accept everything?

Understanding a teenager doesn’t mean accepting everything. For example, it is normal that he seeks to differentiate himself from his parents, often by actions that you will disapprove of… that is what he is looking for. No doubt if you found the piercing he wants to put on, it would immediately be less interesting! In any case, feel free to tell him that you do not accept certain things and set limits. Many parents are afraid of losing the bond with the child when he becomes a teenager, and they say nothing to avoid upsetting him. As a result, they sometimes end up with terrorists at home! The same is true for animators.

Another important point: to be positive! Because with people who live in disillusionment, who have a negative view of society, it is difficult for the young person to conceive his future. Of course this does not mean masking reality, but having constructive criticism with the teen, and thinking about alternatives so that he finds a place in a better world.

FamilyIpsos Health 2006 survey

According to this survey, contrary to popular belief, teens are doing pretty well! Did you think the kids were lonely, lonely? 95 say they have many friends. Do you think they have problems with communication and understanding in the home? 80 say they speak “totally and freely with their parents”. And overall, 71 say they are satisfied with their lives. Finally, 75 of the teenagers feel more socially advantaged. So there is no real exclusion, even if the recent phenomena in the suburbs may suggest that the situation is not homogeneous in France.

School pressure

And teens don’t feel excluded from the education system, on the contrary. 79 of them say they feel good at school. Of course, 42 say they often live under pressure because of the demands of academic performance. And parents and teachers are directly accused of pushing young people too hard, focusing on grades and academic results. Because we made them understand that it’s about succeeding in life! Despite these pressures, children have their feet on the ground: they put family, friends, love and health before school results into their lives.

Yes, but with a smile

The fact that teens are doing well according to the survey may seem paradoxical, when one sees the extremely critical view they have of society and which is reflected in some of the responses. They do not think that the world of tomorrow will be better than today, they are convinced that money is the engine of society and they know that not everyone has the same chance of success. But they keep smiling because 85 think that the D system and the sense of resourcefulness make it possible to get by in life. And most of all, they feel they can make a difference.

Unbe how to be

Of course there are a few black spots that need to be emphasized. Thus, in addition to the pressures of school performance that are pointed out, one in four teenagers has difficulty reaching out to others and one in six does not feel well about themselves. And if we look at the adolescents who add up the problems, we have a worrying fringe of 5 teenagers who are isolated, have no plans for the future, etc. For these, it is necessary to act, to prevent them from switching to solutions that are not. Because even if teens are doing well, you have to recognize the signs of problems to prevent them from tipping over.


Céline will say: “It’s difficult, this passage of life. It is so tiring to live in uncertainty and doubt, it is hard to want to die with what surrounds us, revolted, unhappy in a skin that we do not feel to ourselves, unfortunate also because we no longer understand what is happening and because we are alone, because you scare us a little! »
Gilles: “Adolescence is bonos! There are some that block, that’s for sure. I find it amazing, we can do a lot of stuff like grown-ups but we have no responsibility. I have to say that my parents are cool, I’d like it to last. »

Christophe: “It’s the age when you’re afraid to experience failures, but since it seems that it’s chess that makes you grow and mature, it’s difficult.”
Sophie: “I cried so hard that my eye was red. I’m sad and upset and I don’t even know why. I’d like to be away. It’s like a path with steps and at every stage there is a reward, but if you die, you won’t get the reward. I’ve been dead. I feel bad to think, I have a pain in living, I have too much pain not to be able to encourage myself or console myself. It’s hard, it’s life, but I love it…”

The concern and responsibility of any society is therefore at the level of promoting an ability to empower them to succeed.

The church’s approach

I believe that for us, as a church, we must have the same approach. We have a great responsibility and we have to work to be able to:


  • to listen
  • to communicate
  • giving responsibility
  • trust
  • be an example in word and deed
  • setting rules, limits
  • have to know how to do it
  • give our time
  • a lot of love
  • patience
  • joy
  • enable access to different practices (cultural, sports, science, technology), different activities that are all diverse inputs for knowledge acquisition and personal development
  • to be at their side models of faith so that our investments will bear fruit
  • and finally, give themselves the means to create a network of listening, support and support to parents who need it.