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Cupid, confusion & teens
- Counsellors flooded with growing-up queries on love life, looking good

Toddlers today audition for school admission before they can string two sentences together. Teens today approach counsellors with complex cupid questions before they can deal with a date.

Welcome to the world of Teenager 2005 ' competing with the perfect abs of John Abraham and the shapely curves of Kareena Kapoor, under pressure from peers to 'go around' and censured by parents for doing just that'

If confusion aplenty is the trademark of teenage life, love tops the trouble list. From the lovelorn to the lovesick, they are grappling with affairs of the heart.

'Infatuations, affairs and break-ups are common among 16 to 19-year-olds, but they are acquiring alarming proportions now. Most of these youngsters seem confused about their partners and relationships,' says Sanjay Dugur of Khushi Matrimonial.

The matchmaking firm in New Alipore opened its doors in July, providing various counselling services. The number of queries at Khushi has been 12 to 15 every week.

Sairindree Sen, a lecturer of English in Vidyasagar College for Women, and of English method in Jadavpur University's B.Ed department, knows why.

In a survey she conducted among parents, teachers and teenagers on the need for student counselling, she found how high on the list of issues, for all three groups, were the romantic liaisons of the young.

'Students come to me all the time with problems related to relationships, often because they can't talk to their parents, who insist on their children refraining. The problem is, parents don't see their children as individuals,' feels Sen.

The questions asked by the teens range from the simple ' 'does she really love me' ' to the sinister ' 'is he just interested in my body'

Dugur confirms that there has been a rise in the number of incidents of a boy abandoning a girl after he has had his way with her.

'A friend of mine was ditched by a boy after he got her pregnant. She was totally shattered. So, when I started seeing a boy, I took some counselling,' admits Priya, 18, a resident of Tollygunge.

Boys nurse their own share of doubts. For instance, 17-year-old Akshay, an introvert, keeps asking his counsellor why his 16-year-old girlfriend, an extrovert, mixes so freely with other boys.

For today's teen, looking good is an obsession. 'Now, too much emphasis is put on physical attributes,' says psychiatrist Aniruddha Deb. 'I am treating a young girl whose ambition was to walk the ramp. She neither had the height nor the figure. This led to depression, hampering her studies and inter-personal relationships.'

Deb attributes the growing-up crisis to the widening generation gap between parents and kids, and observes that 'some teenagers internalise their problems, while the sensible ones seek professional help'.

Schools like Heritage and Apeejay have started parenting workshops, but a lot more needs to be done to bridge the gap, feels psychologist Salony Priya. 'A paradigm shift is needed on the part of the parents. They just can't connect with the child, especially on emotional issues. We parents don't listen to our children, so the counsellor becomes more important to them.'

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