3. Changes in the Religion of the Adolescent.—The religion of the adolescent is apt to be marked by fervour and earnest conviction, the phenomenon of “conversion” almost constantly occurring during adolescence. The girl looks upon eternal truths from a completely new standpoint, or at any rate with eyes that have been purged and illuminated by the throes of conversion. From a period of great anxiety and doubt she emerges to a time of intense love and devotion, to an eager desire to prove herself worthy, and to offer a sacrifice of the best powers she possesses. Unfortunately for peace of mind, the happy epoch succeeding conversion not unfrequently ends in a dismal time of intellectual doubt and spiritual darkness. Just as the embryonic love of the youthful adolescent leads to a time when the opposite sex is rather an object of dislike than of attraction, so the fervour of early conversion is apt to lead to a time of desolation; but just as the incomplete sex love of early adolescence finds its antitype and fine flower in the later fully developed love of honourable man and woman, so does the too rapturous and uncalculating religious devotion of these early years revive after the period of doubt, transfigured and glorified into the religious conviction and devotion which makes the strength, the joy, and the guiding principle of adult life.
Much depends on the circumstances and people surrounding the adolescent. Her unbounded capacity for hero-worship leads in many instances to a conscious or unconscious copying of parent, guardian, or teacher; and although the ideals of the young are apt to far outpace those of the adult whose days of illusion are over, yet they are probably formed on the same type. One sees this illustrated by generations in the same family holding much the same religious or political opinions and showing the same aptitude for certain professions, games, and pursuits. Much there is in heredity, but probably there is still more in environment.
Our duties towards adolescent girls.
These may be briefly summed up by saying that we have to provide adolescent girls with all things that are necessary for their souls and their bodies, but any such bald and wholesale enunciation of our duty helps but little in clearing one’s ideas and in pointing out the actual manner in which we are to perform it.
First, with regard to the bodies of adolescent girls; Their primary needs, just like the primary needs of all living beings, are food, warmth, shelter, exercise and rest, with special care in sickness.