In this essay, I will be presenting a developmental observation of my fourteen-year-old cousin Lilly. Lilly is in high school and we live in the same neighborhood. Consequently, I have had numerous interactions with Lilly, and I have also formed a friendship bond with her. Lilly considers me to be an integral part of her life because I am one of the few grownups that she labels as ‘cool’. Lilly is often conflicting with her parents especially her mother.
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Lilly’s father is an alcoholic who has been to rehab a few times. Lilly lives in the city, and she is in a romantic relationship with a boy from her school whom she seems to like very much. Furthermore, Lilly has a few girlfriends with whom she exhibits ‘unreasonable’ levels of loyalty.
Lilly does not exhibit behavioral similarities with most high school kids mostly because of her high levels of intelligence. Moreover, even her high levels of intelligence have not prevented her from having a healthy social life. Lilly has grown in an unstable home that is headed by a severe alcoholic who has issued threats of violence towards his family on one occasion. In this regard, Lilly’s behavior should be aligned with Piaget’s argument of nurture versus nature.
In Lilly’s case, her behavior mostly points towards nature where her brain has maturated in line with that of a fourteen-year-old. Nurture does not appear to have any significant impact on Lilly’s behaviors. For instance, she does not have any problems with alcohol, neither does she struggle in her relationships. Furthermore, Lilly has made peace with her father’s alcoholism, and she does not let it define her actions.
On one occasion, Lilly told me how she does not expect her mother to understand her behavior because she is ‘old and protective’. This form of thinking coincides with Piaget’s formal operational stage of development. During the formal operational stage of development, children can “understand the world through hypothetical thinking and scientific reasoning” (Rathus 88). Consequently, Lilly can comprehend that most of the misunderstandings that she has with her mother are both technical and temporary. Erik Erickson’s psychosocial theory of development considers the ages between 12 and 18 years as the period of identity versus role confusion.
Lilly exhibits this stage of development through her constant conflicts with her mother. Most of these conflicts revolve around Lilly being denied certain freedoms such as going to parties, curfews, visiting friends, and modes of dressing. Lilly’s constant disagreements with her mother are an indicator that she is asserting her independence. On the other hand, her current circle of friends consists of girls that share her tastes in dressing, music, social activities, and economic levels. Therefore, Lilly’s friendships are an indication that she is in the process of acquiring a personal identity.
I consider Lilly to be one of the most responsible teenagers that I know. Sometimes I reckon that she is making better decisions than the ones I made when I was of the same age as she is. Nevertheless, Lilly’s development has indicated that nature is superior to nurture during child maturity. Furthermore, personal independence and identity are very important factors during the development of adolescents. Lilly’s is exhibiting quite a positive trend of personal growth, and this makes me quite optimistic about her future as an adult woman.
Rathus, Spencer. Childhood and adolescence: Voyages in development, New York: Cengage Learning, 2013. Print.