Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Escaping the Endless Adolescence

We have all known that teenagers are now treated as big children instead of small adults for a while now. They continue to live with their parents much longer than in the past, and even when they move out, they continue to receive assistance from us. Instead of striving to push themselves, they feel entitled to the luxuries they have become accustomed to at home. And I've gotten a nagging feeling that we should be doing something about that, but it just seems so hard - that we need to change the entire culture.

Escaping the Endless Adolescence: How We Can Help Our Teenagers Grow Up Before They Grow Old by Joseph and Claudia Worrell Allen, PhDs helps put a magnifying glass on the problem and provides possible solutions. Their findings are based on research. It explains how this phenomenon is hurting the teenager as much as it is annoying the parents and society. It helped change my thinking about many situations.

Escaping the Endless Adolescence

Here are just a few of the topics covered in the book:
  • They discuss the history of teenagers. In the past, teenagers were treated as budding adults, and became apprentices to learn the skills to go forth on their own. We now send them to school, where they are surrounded by their peers and very few adults to serve as role models. Juvenile delinquency was not common in the past and in other societies. The authors postulate the reasons for this.
  • Teen brains are more capable than adult brains in important ways than we give them credit. We need to take advantage of these differences and capacities instead of wasting them. We tend to underestimate our teenager's abilities, even though they routinely handled the same tasks in the past.
  • We stifle our teens by worrying about rare dangers, such as abduction by strangers, and completely ignore the common risks. The book lists the common risks and tells us what we can do to avoid them.
  • The authors have found that we can reduce teen pregnancy rates by 50%, without ever having any discussions about sex.
  • They have found that the popular kids tend to have higher rates of drug use and delinquency than less popular kids. The authors explains why this is the case.
  • Simply getting a job for teens may not be the right answer. There are other methods that are more effective.
  • Even when parents are struggling financially, we tend to give kids everything they want. This leaves them with a feeling of entitlement, and other effects of "precocious affluence".
  • By sending them to school, and stifling them from the real world, we have given over the process of socializing teens to the peer group. The book shows how we can take it back.

Escaping the Endless Adolescence Book Review

I have read several books lately that talk about people of this generation, with their sense of entitlement, and their unwillingness to grow up to become dependable and responsible adults. These kids are not willing to struggle and start from the bottom to work their way up. They expect things to be handed to them on a silver platter, and continue to get assistance from their helicopter parents.
Their parents have given them a sense of fear about the bad world outside, and make them feel that they aren't capable of doing things on their own. The world is much more complicated today than in the past, but our kids are fully capable, if only we would give them our confidence that they can do it.
I know lots of people who are getting support from their parents - these people are underemployed and could very well do better. But I'm not sure how much of it is also due to the economy. It is harder to get a job, especially starting out without a lot of experience. In a poor economy, it is tough to take that much rejection, and since there is such an easy fallback of continuing to rely on the parents, I can completely understand why they would continue to do so.

My daughter is willing to work hard and do what it takes to get a job and become a responsible adult. She wants that, and I am sure that most people of her generation do too. By trusting in their abilities, and providing them with solid adult role models and mentors, they can succeed and lead happy, adult lives.

This book shows ways that we can help our children and other adolescence in our lives to become productive adults.

I got this book from the library and I highly recommend reading it. It is useful not only for parents of teenagers and would-be teenagers, but also people who are around teenagers in their lives, so pretty much society at large.

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