© 2002 Franklin Cameron.
All Rights Reserved.
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Welcome to the Kingdom of Adolescence

Some of the greatest tales our culture tells are of travelers journeying to distant kingdoms in search of treasures or adventure. In our time, among the stories we value most highly are journeys in search of knowledge and relationship with other peoples and cultures.

I like to imagine that
each of us embarks on these journeys every day of our lives as we interact with each other. Perhaps it truly could be said that each of us is like a kingdom. Like a kingdom we have boundaries—in our case, psychological as well as physical. People we like and desire are invited to come inside our boundaries. People we don’t desire are kept out or asked to leave. Often our self-respect depends on how well we maintain the integrity of these boundaries. Within our boundaries are preferences and beliefs, purposes and goals that are unique to us and constitute our personal cultures.

Even though our borders are important to us, sometimes
we form special alliances, but hold the option of dissolving an alliance if and when we wish. It is expected that an adult will rule his or her own kingdom and maintain it in good order. Adults who don’t feel degraded. Sometimes a foreign power has seized their throne. This power can be a person who dominates them and runs their life. It can also take the form of an addiction or debilitating fear.

The kingdom of an adolescence is unique in several defining ways. Although adolescents, to varying degrees, are in the process of
becoming aware of having kingdoms of their own, someone else occupies the throne. This is usually a mother, father, or some other guardian. An adolescent’s maturity can be measured in terms of how close he or she is to assuming self-rule, with all rights, privileges and responsibilities that go with self-rule. Some adolescents seize control of the throne prematurely, or are compelled to because of circumstances beyond their control. Some never achieve self-rule and surrender control of their kingdoms to others for the rest of their lives.

As an adult and psychotherapist specializing in working with adolescents, I have come to appreciate the ways
adolescents must strive to create their kingdoms. I witness the power struggle that ensues between them and their guardians. I realize how important it is that adolescents ultimately win this struggle, take charge of their lives and become young adults. To that purpose, an adolescent’s job could be said to be this: to gather his or her power. If honoring this process interests you, I have also found this to be true: The Kingdom of Adolescence will welcome you.

© 2002 by Franklin Cameron. All Rights Reserved.