Mackenzie is a 19 years old boy who lives with his parents in New Orleans, the United States. He is the second born in the family and has two brothers and one sister. He has just finished high school and has the prospect of joining college the following year. We interviewed him about the challenges he faces at his age and he showed cooperation by answering our questions.
When we asked him to compare life at adolescent with early teenage at 13, he replied that life at 19 years involved a lot of demands that he was required to meet compared with the age of 13 years where most of demands were met by his parents. For instance, at this age, he explained that he had to ensure he coped with adult life and had to take care of himself and manage his time without advice from another person or his parents. He explained that at the age of 13, he could be asked to go take a bath, but this is not the case at the current age. In addition, he explained that he had to participate in activities that his friends took part in and ensure he kept abreast with the latest events that took place and ensure he participated fully.
When we asked Mackenzie to explain any developmental tasks that were associated with his age and how he was affected by the tasks, he explained that since he left high school, he has been forced to be self-responsible for his actions and not rely on advice from his parents to manage his life. For instance, he finds that he does not need to inform his parents about certain decisions he has made and does not want them to know about them. He says there are certain interests and challenges that he feels he should tackle on his own, and does not need to involve his parents. For instance, when he courts a girl, he feels he should be responsible for his action and exclude his parents because he feels he is mature to deal with the situation. Furthermore, he explains that he does not want to ask his parents for pocket money; thus he has been forced to to improve his financial state by working as he awaits joining college.
In terms of the challenges Mackenzie experienced while interacting with people of the opposite sex, he explained that most of the girls he interacted with did not consider him to be mature enough while he believed in himself. He also explained that most of the girls he interacted with believed that his parents were protective of him, and they would be accused that they were responsible for his misbehavior if they interacted with him. He explained that most girls preferred that he first finishes his studies; gets a job and his own house before they could consider him as responsible. He explained that these perceptions about him were not pleasing since he believed that he had the maturity of an adult to enter relationships.
We also asked him whether he felt his parents controlled his actions and prevented him from being independent. In response, he explained that despite being required to be responsible for most of his actions, the actions for which he can make independent decisions are determined by his parents. For instance, he explained that his parents prevented him from visiting some of his friends at their homes because they believed he could be badly influenced. For the same reasons his parents were also resentful to the idea of girls visiting him at their home. They believed that the girls who Mackenzie interacted with dressed indecently and could mire him into bad behaviors such as irresponsible sexual activity. This was contrary to his understanding of himself as a responsible person who is accountable for what he does.
We also inquired about the possibility of Mackenzie going to college, and the course he would like to take. He explained that since he graduated from high school, he had been contemplating to join the Texas college of media Studies. He explained that he preferred this college because he considers it a learning institution where he could get the quality education in media studies. He also explained that he chose to study media because he has the passion for media and can perform well if he works in a media industry. He also explained that a course in media studies would guarantee him a job because he knew the places where he would work as a media practitioner. He explained that by joining a media house, he would be able to apply his theoretical knowledge gained from college. He further explained that he was determined to take the course irrespective of the opposition he received from parents and peers.
Regarding the possibility of seeking guidance from his brother or elder members of the community, Mackenzie explained that he believed in himself and did not seek guidance from these people. He also explained that he was usually not in good terms with some of the elders, and it was difficult to get the right assistance from them because they had different points of views. He explained that he was mature, and he knew what is right and what is wrong and was adherent to the regulations within the community just like other adults. Thus, he did no regard that he needed any assistance from the elderly people in the community. Another reason why he did not seek advice from the elderly people in the community is that such elders usually provided services at a fee, and he did not have the fees to pay the elders whenever they provided him with advice. He also believed that the elderly people did not understand his interests and aspirations and would not provide him the right guidance. This discouraged him, and he opted to rely on his individual decisions when deciding what to do at a particular time.
With regards to the learning environment Mackenzie explained that he preferred a learning environment where students are provided with the freedom to study the subjects they like. For instance, he preferred to do his personal studies in a quiet room free from noises from the streets or communicating students. He also explained that the best learning environment is where students are allowed to interact freely and share their experiences on the topic they have studied and cooperate while learning. However, he also explained that he was a good team player and would prefer a discussion with the students whom they do the same courses with in the college. He explained that when he joins college, he would prefer a learning environment where the tutors and teachers interact and students are provided with assistance in their areas of need. He explained that there were certain unpleasant learning environments in high school that he would not like to encounter in college. For instance, a case where students are not given enough time to study before they are given assessment tests and the state where teachers continue to the next topic without considering whether students have understood a particular concept or not. He explained that he expected to see changes in these conditions when he joins the college.
We also asked Mackenzie to explain whether he was indecisive with regards to the kind of company he would like to work for. He explained that he was actually informed by his parents that jobs are scarce in the country, and there is no need to be selective with the kind of job that a person wants to do. Thus, he explained that he has opted to remain flexible to do any job that comes about as soon as he finishes college. In addition, he has been lured by working in areas where remuneration is higher than in the media industry. For instance, he has been attracted to working in an insurance company, but he does not have the interest to work in such an industry. However, his passion has been to work for a media company, but since he is not assured that he will get a job in one of these companies, he has opted to be willing to take up any job. He explained that this has had an impact on his focus because he has to divide his attention among various targets, thus affecting the outcome of his focus on working in a media organization.
We also inquired about his present relationship status and the kind or relationship status that he would prefer. He explained that based on his current financial situation and parental control, he was unable to have a girlfriend, thus, he is single. He explained that his parents and the people he associated with monitored his actions,and he did not want to cause disagreement with them by having a girlfriend. As a result, he has decided to remain single but keeps in touch with some of his female friends in the neighborhood. However, he says that he is not in a hurry to have a girlfriend because he has not joined a college yet and has more challenges ahead that need to be tackled first. However, he explains that if he is a person whose relationship preference is straight and would like to have a girlfriend when he finishes college. He explains that he would expect his parents to accept his girlfriend and treat her as they would treat their daughter and avoid speculating that she is out to destroy him morally. He also explained that he would expect his girlfriend to be cooperative in the relationship and be faithful to him. He also explained that he was not pleased with girls who want their boyfriends to give presents before they can accept friendship because that is a sign of materialism.
We also inquired Mackenzie’s view regarding the manner in which his parents treated his family and whether he was affected with regards to being autonomous in decision making. He explained that his parents always tried to control what happened to their children. For instance, they would not allow Mackenzie or his sister decides the kind of meal that the family would have and what amount. They also made decisions on the kind of schools their children go until they reach college level where they can be allowed to select the kind of college they would like to attend. Mackenzie explained that he was pleased with this because he believed in his parents and hoped that they would act as a role model to them. However, he personally felt that there was the need for control certain situations despite being under parential control. For instance, he had the preference to go to parties and socialize with his friends but his parents resented to this. He also explained that at particular points, he became angry with his parents over excessive control.
We also inquired Mackenzie’s preferred lifestyle and the kind of hobbies he would like to participate in. He replied that he would like a lifestyle where he is allowed to be responsible for his actions, socialize with his friends, spend his money on the things he prefers and not criticized for the actions he undertakes for his personal satisfaction. He also explained that since he was yet to join college, he was less capable to take care of himself and would like to get the right financial and moral support from his parents so that he could excel in his studies and become successful in life. He also preferred getting a well payed job, a better housing and a well-off family. He explained that he would like his family to be richer than that of his parents at the time he finishes his college education and gets married and start working. He explained that his hobbies included catching up with his friends on social sites such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace. He also explained that his preferred sport is basketball although he did not make it to the school team at high school.
Mackenzie also explained that he has ever been involved in a disagreement with one of his friend immediately they left high school. He explained that the cause of the disagreement was on the basis of a party that they were supposed to attend, but the friend did not come. Thus, he had to settle the bills for their colleagues who attended the party and this was too costly for him. He explained that his friend refused to cater for his part because he did not attend the party. He disagreed with him and they parted ways and did not communicate for three months despite being close neighbors. However, now they have reconnected.
In addition, Mackenzie reported that there is certain information that needs to be communicated confidentially but he always feels his parents or his friends making it public. For instance, when he does not perform well at school and gets lower grades, he does not expect his parents to share the information with other family members because he would be humiliated. He prefers that whenever he has a problem his parents should not share the information with other family members. In addition, when he goes to a doctor to seek medical attention, he expects the doctor to keep the information secret and not to inform his parents. However, since the doctor he seeks medical advice from knows his parents, he tells his parents about his medical problems and this displeases him. He also explains that when he has invited a girl for dinner, his friends should avoid meddling in the affair and spreading the information to other people. However, most of his friends share information about him with other people which makes him feel uncomfortable and displeased.
We also asked Mackenzie to explain the right time that he would get married and what he would need to accomplish before he gets married and the challenges that he anticipates when he gets married. He explained that he would like to get married when he finishes college and has a stable job that would guarantee a better life for his family. He explained that there are a number of challenges that he anticipates to experience when he gets married and would want to manage them successfully. For instance, he explained that there are the possibilities that he would be involved in disagreement with his wife on particular occasions and it would be difficult to come to terms. He also explained that when he gets married, he would avoid communicating with certain groups of his friends and going to parties so that he could focus on strengthening ties with his family. He also explained that another challenge that he would experience when married is that he would have to work hard to satisfy the needs of the family.
Interventions from Social Work Help Promote Positive Development of Mackenzie
There are many interventions that can be used to assist Mackenzie develop positively and attain his lifetime goals. For instance, he can be advised to put more focus on his life time goals such as going to college and avoid involving himself in unruly behaviors that might put him at loggerheads with the authorities or his parents (Loeber, 2012). He should be advised to obey his parents because he is still under their care. He also needs to be advised to engage in moral behaviors such as joining a local community organization and participate in community services as he waits to join the college. Furthermore, he needs to avoid groups that are misleading such as those that drink, lazy and irresponsible friends. Another advice that can be given to Mackenzie is that he should believe in himself and be assertive with regards to his demands as long as they are genuine. For instance, he should believe that he is approaching adulthood where his life will be based on his decisions and should be aware of anyone who tries to make his life a waste by depending on his personal decisions.
These interventions will be useful because they will ensure he obeys the authorities and remains in good terms with his parents and friends. He will get the respect he deserves from the community and his parents as he waits to join college and will be able to tackle the challenges he faces while going through the period between adolescence and adulthood.
1. Could you explain your ethnic background?
2. How do you view life at this age compared to when you were 13 years old?
3. What developmental tasks are associated with your age and are you directly affected by these tasks?
4. What challenges are you experiencing while trying to interact with people from the opposite sex?
5. What challenges are you experiencing while trying to maintain independence from your parents?
6. Which college would you like to go to and which course would you like to study and why do you have interest in this course?
7. Do you feel comfortable asking for guidance from the elderly people such as your elder brother or senior members of the community?
8. What learning environment pleases you and what difficulties did find in your previous learning environment in high school?
9. Do you find difficulty in deciding the kind of company you would you prefer to work with?
10. What kind of relationship status are you currently and which kind of relationship would you prefer at this age?
11. How do you think your parents are treating your family and does it have an impact on you as you try to become autonomous?
12. What kind of lifestyle are you pleased with and what kinds of hobbies would you like to participate in and why?
13. Have you ever engaged in a disagreement with your friends and what were the causes and outcomes of such a disagreement?
14. Are there certain forms of information that you consider confidential but are often publicized about you?
15. When do you think is the right time to get married and what challenges do you think you are likely to experience when you are married?
|Interview of an Older Family Member