About Me

Ithaca, New York
MWF, now officially 42, loves long walks on the beach and laughing with friends ... oh, wait. By day, I'm a mid-level university administrator reluctant to be more specific on a public forum. Nights and weekends, though, I'm a homebody with strong nerdist leanings. I'm never happier than when I'm chatting around the fire, playing board games, cooking up some pasta, and/or road-tripping with my family and friends. I studied psychology and then labor economics in school, and I work in higher education. From time to time I get smug, obsessive, or just plain boring about some combination of these topics, especially when inequality, parenting, or consumer culture are involved. You have been warned.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

#85: 7 Things Your Teenager Won't Tell You

7 Things Your Teenager Won't Tell You and How to Talk About Them Anyway, by Jennifer Marshall Lippincott and Robin M. Deutsch, Ph.D. (New York: Ballantine, 2005)

"Every teenager keeps secrets. If you're like most parents, you worry about what your kids don't tell you. In this guide to keeping pace -- and peace -- with teens, authors Jennifer Lippincott and Robin Deutsch offer a deceptively simple plan for talking to your kids that's based on a simple set of rules: Teens need to stay safe, show respect, and keep in touch."

Table of Contents:

Part I: Our Jobs Redefined

  • Job Description
The Rules of Play
  • Our Own Adolescence -- A Look Back
  • Today's Adolescents -- What's Changed?
  • The Case for the Rules of Play
  • Selling the Rules of Play to Our Adolescents
  • Rule #1: Stay Safe
  • Rule #2: Show Respect
  • Rule #3: Keep in Touch
Part II: The Seven Things

1. Their Brains Are To Blame
  • The New News About the Adolescent Brain
  • The Adolescent Brain's Control Mechanisms
  • What We Need to Know About the Limbic System
  • What We Need to Know About the Prefrontal Cortex
  • The Great Brain Drain
  • Substance Abuse and the Adolescent Brain
  • Sleep and the Adolescent Brain
  • How to Deal
2. Truth Is As Malleable As Their Friday Night Plans
  • The Anatomy of an Adolescent Lie
  • Categories of Lies
  • Getting at the Truth
  • How to Deal
3. Controlling Them Is Not the Point
  • The Control Conundrum
  • A New Regime
  • Taking Their Tempraments
  • Playing with Our Adolescents
  • Games It's Okay to Play
  • How to Deal
  • Command of Control
4. The Adolescent Mirror Distorts
  • What We See Is Not What We Get
  • What They See Is Not What We See
  • The Only Adolescent Perspective -- Their Own
  • Time Is on Their Side
  • The Art of the Adolescent Conversation
  • How to Deal
5. Friends Don't Matter As Much As We May Think
  • Friends Versus Companions
  • Their Reality Shows
  • Is a Friend of Our Adolescent's a Friend of Our?
  • The Seven Myths of Peer Influence
  • Friendship Formations
  • How to Deal
6. When We Say No, They Hear Maybe
  • Reality Bytes
  • Values Clarification
  • The Great Adolescent (Parenting) Inhibitors
  • Our Moral Addresses
  • Gender Balancing
  • How to Deal
7. Taking Risks Gives Them Power
  • The Nature of Risk
  • The Power of Risk
  • Balancing the Power Scales
  • Risks Past and Present
  • Degrees of Risk
  • How to Deal
My Take:
The very short jacket blurb above (it's a paperback and most of the back cover is excerpts from reviews) seems appropriate, as there didn't really seem to be all that much to this book. Yes, the point the authors make about the adolescent brain not being fully developed bears repeating (and may well have still fallen into the category of hot this-just-in news when the book as published in 2005). And truth be told, I'll admit to reading about the first half pretty closely and then, well, doing a lot of skimming from there on.

But that aside, unless I missed something major, there just isn't enough substance there for a full book. Most of the communication tips seem pretty self-evident, and certainly have been published elsewhere before this, i.e., you get more info from your teen if you ask non-judgmental, impersonal questions (i.e., "Do many kids drink at parties?" "Hey, I read this article about ... ") than if you start right out accusing and blaming. And the authors' much-touted Rules of Play (stay safe, show respect, keep in touch) are good ideas in theory, but so vague ad to cover pretty much everything and nothing at once. They're also a bit light on the consequences part of parenting.

All in all -- meh. Not awful but not particularly impressive or memorable, either.

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