Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Favorite Parenting Books Part 3- Teens

I've read several books on teenagers and parenting teens. This book has had the biggest impact. It has absolutely altered my world view as well as my parenting. The two things I disliked first: the title (silly I know, but Teen 2.0 is not very descriptive, although the subtitle is a help). The second thing is that this book is HUGE. The biggest parenting book I've ever bothered with. It is a hefty 535 pages, but take heart, it is only 376 if you don't count the appendix and index. Such a large appendix and index are evidence of the thorough research the author has done, which isn't surprising as he holds a Ph.D. and is a professor of psychology. Now, why I love this book. Epstein takes some basic assumptions I held (and you do too, I suspect) about adolescence and smashes them. Absolutely destroys them. I love this! It is largely why I love travel, as a side note. We all hold certain things to be self-evident and true based on our experience and culture, but when you travel, some of those beliefs are called into question. Our understanding and vision of human nature and the world expands, deepens and becomes wiser. Epstein takes us through many different cultures and gives a broad historical perspective in regards to adolescence. When this broad view is taken, you suddenly see how ridiculous and self-defeating some of our ideas about teens are. Epstein's ideas are a bit radical to the modern American mind and I certainly didn't agree with all he said, but I agreed with a great deal. It has completely altered how I approach every parenting moment with my teens. I have been thrilled with the results of those changes thus far. Less conflict, more trust and openness, less fear and above all empowerment (for me and my teen). I'll leave you with an excerpt from the book, just one of many things I underlined, "Authority in the absence of responsibility promotes recklessness. . . Responsibility without authority is frustrating and immobilizing. So please, let's not give teens more freedom. They have much too much freedom as it is: too much free time (unstructured, unsupervised hours spent doing meaningless things, often with peers), too much free cash (money obtained from an allowance, gifts or part-time work which can be used in entirely discretionary ways) and too much freedom from consequences (that is, from the negative consequences of behavior that would normally be severely punished in adults). Let's give teens who seek it and who can demonstrate appropriate competence the authority they deserve, along with the responsibility that such authority demands." Read it!

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