Friday, January 17, 2014

Can't take your teen to fun places anymore?

The right book at the right time

I'm surrounded by friends living with teens. I have one of my own at home. I remember exactly what it was like to be 15. And I've got to agree with author Michael J. Bradley's book where he emphatically explains: "Yes, your teen is crazy!"

This Christmas, a friend of mine simply could not convince her 14-year-old boy (taller and bigger than she is) to come to the dinner they traditionally have with friends on December 25th. She was devastated. She could certainly not drag him out of the house. She could not bribe him. He took her by surprise. She spent the Holidays mourning the little boy who would follow her everywhere to all the fun places she fancied. 

Tough ride
I had to go through the same kind of mourning when my youngest went from telling me she loved me five times a day to a 24-7 policy of "No Touchie". 

These are mild cases of what parents of teens go through. In my upper-middle class milieu, I've seen a bit of everything: drug problems, drinking problems, high school drop-out, cutting one-self, anorexia, depression, suicide attempt, epic yelling matches...

Bradley's book truly helps makes some sense out of it. He brings lots of concrete cases to our attention, many more extreme than what I have seen around, which he still considers "normal crazy".

The main virtue of his book is probably that it helps you get some distance, not take everything personally and find the motivation to try different ways to deal with your teen. You can't interact with a temporarily insane person the same way you do with a reasonable one.

The book is available in a $10 Kindle version which you can upload on the spot. (Did you know you can install a Kindle app for free on your computer ?)

Top-5 things I retain from the book
• MRIs have proven that our teens' prefrontal cortex (the brain's remote control) doesn't work properly (for the time being, they'll get there eventually).
• Don't ask teens to explain WHY they did something stupid. They can't! And it stresses them even more than it stresses you.
• Peer pressure works for superficial things such as clothes and music but teens get their values mainly from us (they just go dormant for a couple of years).
• How true to ourselves we are is vital. Teens have a very sensitive  "bullshit" detector. If we want to help them become better individuals, we might as well start working on ourselves... and our couples.
• Teens' biggest job is building their identity. Our biggest job is respecting that... while helping them reach age twenty alive.

NOTE: I've created a For teenagers category for this blog where 
I'll keep adding suggestions of teen outings (with or without their parents).

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