This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
” This is a unique moment of elation and fear. There is joy in seeing our seed – a sapling. There is also apprehension: No longer can we protect our teen from all winds. No longer can we stand between him and the world, or shield her from life’s dangers. From now on our almost-adult must face unavoidable challenges unaccompanied by us. There is also conflict. As parents, our need is to be needed; as teenagers their need is not to need us. This conflict is real; we experience it daily as we help those we love become independent of us. This can be our finest hour. To let go when we want to hold on requires utmost generosity and love. Only parents are capable of such painful greatness. Is coexistence possible? No one could doubt the intentions of parents who worry about their teens: They want to see their children happy, healthy, and safe. Yet so often their efforts are unrewarded and their love unrequited. Teenagers resent unsolicited attention and advice. They strive to appear grown-up, independent, and self-sufficient. They need to feel capable of finding their way without parental dialect. They are like people needing loans but wishing they were financially independent. Regardless of how accommodating the parental bank may be, the interest will be resented by the teenage borrower. Help is perceived as interference; concern as babying; advice as bossing. Autonomy, though feared, is valued above all. Anyone interfering with it is the enemy. Parents of teenagers face a difficult dilemma: How to help when help is resented; how to guide when guidance is rejected; how to communicate when attention is taken as attack. Chapter 1 – Rebellion and response Many teenagers have an inner radar that detects what irritates their parents. If we value neatness our teenagers may be sloppy, her room messy, her clothes repulsive, and her hair unkempt and stringy. If we insist on good manners, he may interrupt conversations, use profanity, and belch in company. If we enjoy language that has grace and nuance, he may speak slang. If we treasure peace, he may quarrel with our neighbors, tease their dogs, and bully their children. If we like good literature, she may fill our home with comic books. If we stress physical activity, he may refuse to exercise. If we are concerned about health, she may wear summer clothes in freezing weather. If we are worried about air pollution and lung cancer, he may smoke like a chimney. If we prize good marks and academic standards, she may sink to the bottom of his class. Bewildered, parents respond with a predictable sequence of desperate measures. First, we get tough. When this fails, we switch to kindness. When no results follow, we try reasoning. When gentle persuasion falls on deaf ears, we resort to ridicule and rebuke. Then we return to threats and punishment. This is the modus operandi of a mutual frustration society. What can parents do to stay sane and to survive with honor? A famous oriental proverb advises relaxation in face of the inevitable. A time of turmoil Adolescence can be a time of turmoil and turbulence, of stress and storm. Though it is estimated that only 5% of children who were trouble-free children will become trouble come teens, it is normal for all teens to test limits and seek autonomy. Resistance against authority and rebellion against convention are to be expected and tolerated for the sake of learning and growth. Our children's adolescence can be a difficult time for parents. It is not easy to watch a pleasant child turn into an unruly adolescent. It is especially hard to tolerate the appearance or reappearance of annoying mannerisms. It is worrisome to see a youngster lying in bed, staring into space, and twisting a piece of string for hours on end. It is bewildering to watch shifting moods, or listen to never-ending complaints. Suddenly, nothing suits their taste. The house is crummy, the car is junky,
and we are old-fashioned. Life can become a series of daily irritations. Old battles are revived. She fights getting up in the morning, and fights going to bed at night. He is behind in his studies and in his bathing. She is full of contradictions. His language is crude, but he is too shy to change clothes in the locker room. She talks about love, but a hug from mother will send her running for her life. He will quarrel and quibble and ignore our words. But he will be genuinely surprised if we feel hurt by his antics. Our consolation (or perhaps only half a consolation) is that there is a method to the madness. His behavior fits his developmental phase. The purpose of adolescents is to establish their own identities. Adolescence is a period of curative madness, in which every teenager has to remake his or her sense of self. They must free themselves from childhood ties with parents, establish new identifications with peers, and find their own identities. Hidden Worries Some teenagers are preoccupied with unanswerable questions. They are obsessed with the fragility of life and the inevitability of death. The following excerpt from a letter by a sixteen-year-old girl is an example: The more I read about life's splendor, the more I see its tragedy: The fleetingness of time, the ugliness of age, the certainty of death. The inevitable is always on my mind. Time is my slow executioner. When I see large crowds at a beach, or a ball game, I think to myself: “Who among them is going to die first, and who last?” How many of them will be dead next year? Five years from now? Ten years from now? I feel like crying out: “How can you enjoy life when you know death is around the corner?” Many teenagers are tormented by terrors they deem private and personal. They do not know that their anxieties and doubts are universal. This insight is hard to convey. Each teenager must attain it on his or her own. It takes time and wisdom to realize that the personal parallels the universal, and what pains one person pains all humanity. A search for identity The search for a personal identity is the life task of a teenager. When each looks in the mirror, the pressing question is: “Who am I?” He is not sure what he wants to be, but he knows what he does not want to be. She is afraid of being a nobody, an imitation of an image, a chip off the old block. He becomes disobedient and rebellious, not so much to defy his parents but in order to experience identity and autonomy. The contrariness can be extreme. For instance, before buying a suit one teenager asked the salesman: “If my parents like this dress, can I exchange it for another one?” A teen's task is tremendous, and the time is short. Too much is happening at once. There are somatic spurts, psychic urges, social clumsiness, and painful self-consciousness. No room is ever quite large enough for an adolescent. She doesn't mean to bump into the hostess, drop her plate, or spill the drink. She just does. His feet slide from under him, and his hands create havoc. Mass media tactlessly dramatize awkwardness for the adolescent. Television magnifies his pimples; radio call attention to his bad breath; and magazines want him to be deodorantly safe. They tell him what best friends would not: to sweeten his breath; to straighten her teeth; to wash away his dandruff; to shorten her nose; to elevate his height; to add weight or lose flab; to build muscles and correct postures. With such friendly advice many a teenager feels defective. While teenagers can not acknowledge it, they need our help. But, to be effective, our aid must be subtle and sophisticated. Guidelines to help Accept the restlessness and discontents of adolescence. Adolescence will not be a perpetually happy time. It is a time for uncertainty, self-doubt, and
tasted a spoonful of soup.” These statements are safe because they omit evaluations. Parents need a different approach. Carol and her mother were window shopping: CAROL. They do not criticize. . It is the age of inconsistency and ambivalence. “What's the matter with you? Why can't you sit still? What has suddenly gotten into you?” These are unanswerable questions. pink and purple. to flex my muscles.” “I am fond of stripes. Stop complaining and eat! CYNTHIA: It's awful. CYNTHIA ( with disgust ): It's too salty. I can't talk about it with my parents. Such a reply creates hostility. Do not try to convince him that what he sees or hears or feels or senses is not so. I hardly used any salt at all. The only describe. First of all do not deny your teenagers' perceptions. not by talking. Since her taste is not attacked.” “You go for large designs.” “I go for delicate designs.” “You like green. I look for a chance to act.” Says Brian. I want to learn the bitter from the sweet by tasting. “I prefer quiet patterns. I am torn by conflicting emotions. it describes it. the teenager need not defend it.” An effective response does not attack a teenager's taste. but Carol did not hear the hidden intentions. age fifteen : What a beautiful blouse. What she heard was: “You are stupid.” Chapter 2 – First Respect Their Reality Acknowledging experience It is common for parents to judge teens' perceptions and statements by their own reality. MOTHER: No. Do not argue with their experiences.” Parents may then state their own preference. You have no taste. age fourteen. A non-critical response leaves her free to reconsider her choices. I am burning with unfamiliar desires.” Seventeen-year-old Barbara dramatically vents the agonies of her age: ger for experience. Instead. it's not. age sixteen: “I'm always frustrated. Even if he knew. I hunger for experience. to feel my strength. I'm overcharged and there's no outlet. Descriptive statements are not likely to arouse hostility and defiance. they feed me explanations. “I see you want a blouse that is cut low.” “I like soft colors. It is not helpful to ask a teenager. they feed me explanations. It allows for change of mind without loss of face. It's ugly and vulgar. he could not say: “Look Mom. This is the age of cosmic yearnings and private passions. of social concern and personal agony. MOTHER: It's not beautiful. Mother may have intended to prevent a bad choice. I am engulfed by irrational urges. I'm in love and there's no girl.struggle. The Salty Soup – A Story with a Moral Cynthia.
On the contrary. it is best to deal with it graciously. It has mushrooms and barley and – CYNTHIA: Look. criticized modern painting. She rushed away to her room. Calvin felt insulted.K. Instead. Mom. it's too salty for you. Food is a symbol of love. FATHER: What do you know about art? Have you read any books on the subject? You would do well to get an education before you express and opinion.” This conversation did not increase Calvin's appreciation for art or his love for his father.” Everybody laughed and the crisis was over. went with his father to a gallery of abstract art. CALVIN: These pictures don't make any sense. That's what you are. Calvin gave father a deadly look and said: “I still think the pictures stink.” seventeen-year-old Carl said: “It's O. MOTHER: You prefer representational art? CLARA: What's that? MOTHER: You like it when a house looks like a house. CYNTHIA: So give it to them. All my life I liked representational art and didn't know it. we let our teenager use his own initiative to deal with life situations. When Carl's mother responded to his complaints about the corned beef with: “Oh. MOTHER: You don't like abstract art? CLARA: I sure don't. age thirteen. When mellower moods prevail. MOTHER: Then you like representational art. similar complaints led to angry arguments and spoiled moods. mother did not dispute her opinion. CLARA: Yes. and a tree like a tree. It is unlikely that our generosity will be exploited. if it's so delicious you eat it. I wish we had something else.. .” It is best not to volunteer verbal remedies. Abstract art and concrete conversation Calvin.MOTHER: The soup is delicious. I'll take it with a grain of salt. This episode deserves a happier ending. it is not helpful to argue with her taste buds. From the mouths of our children come words we should never have said. Instead.” “You prefer less spice in your soup. Acknowledging the difficulty and waiting for her suggestions allows her to assert her will and exercise her autonomy. hurt. and revengeful. In the past. CLARA: Imagine that. He will look for an opportunity to get back at his father. When a teenager complains that a dish is too spicy or too hot or too cold. and a person like a person. MOTHER: You know what you are? You are fresh and spoiled. accept his experience as fact and respond accordingly: “The soup is too salty for you. When Clara. it will induce good will. Millions of children would love to have this soup. complaints evaporate and solutions appear. age fourteen. Mom. Nor did she condemn her taste. It's ugly.
stay out of the kitchen. Charles left the living room. Charles did not learn anything about peace.The healing dialogue Parents can be their children's advocates Daniel. It is never wise to try to convince our teenager that he is stupid. He must have been tired. The following stories illustrate how parents can use the method of acknowledging experience. His talk with his son did not create greater love or respect in the family. Stating one's own views. Chapter 3 . age sixteen. . I was just talking. I'm sure he didn't mean to hurt you. MOTHER: Look. Smith. FATHER: Look at my sixteen-year-old military genius! What do you know about such complex problems? You talk like an idiot. or politics. the key to dialogue is the willingness to summarize the other person's view. Let me tell you a few things about China . and to keep his ideas to himself. age fifteen. It's not easy to drive a bus full of wild kids. Dad. Avoiding criticism and name calling. This is my view…” In an argument. What did you do? DANIEL: Nothing. He did learn to resent his father. Now is the time to declare war on China . is interested in political science. “If you can't stand the heat. We win our teenager's attention when we listen with a third ear and responds with a sympathetic tongue. such as: Listening with attention. CHARLES: China will soon be the strongest nation in the world. Repeating the gist of the teen's statement. and that his ideas are idiotic. His facts are not always accurate and his opinions are often overstated. Tell me more about them. Then.” MOTHER: Mr. We win his heart when we express for him clearly what he said vaguely. The real danger is that he may believe us. complained because her younger sister had gone skating. At the top of his voice he yelled: “You don't care about me at all.The politics of peace: words and feelings Charles.” Cora. “The way you feel is how it really was for you. You must have done something to provoke him. before stating one's own. I know you and I know Mr. He's a nice man. Smith wouldn't push you without a reason.” Then father could have repeated the gist of this son's views to indicate that he had listened and understood. too. At this point Daniel exploded. Was the battle necessary? Perhaps not. when our words fit our feelings. he would state his own views: “I see we differ in our opinion on China . Father's sermon on peace resulted in a new war at home. came home raving mad: “The dumb bus driver Smitty called me a stupid idiot. Applying the rule of not disputing a teenager's opinions. We win respect when we are authentic. He likes to talk about strange countries and foreign nations.” Hurt and angry. and her brother bowling. while father went on lecturing to his wife on how to bring peace to the world. father could have said: “I am interested in your ideas about war and peace. and only then. age fourteen. It is a parent's responsibility to demonstrate to his teenager fruitful methods of communication and conversation. CHARLES ( in anger ): No thanks. three times! And he pushed me. FATHER: What's the matter? The argument getting too hot for you? Well.
it was not her duty to look for the driver's motives or to supply excuses for him. Emotional first aid When Daniel told his mother that he had been insulted and pushed around by the school-bus driver. They provide explanations and excuses for the discourtesy of a driver. Immediate intervention may only escalate the conflict. They resist their natural inclination to help them because they believe they will be better prepared for life in “The School of Hard Knocks.” “It must have made you furious. Any of the following statements would have told Daniel that his mother knew what he had gone through: “It must have been terribly embarrassing for you. When a teenager is in trouble. Compassion is a great healer. Dad. it is often best to postpone further action. too.” This false belief has estranged many parents from their teenagers. hurt. In this episode mother was not helpful. In emotional situations. They do not compliment a safe-cracker on his skill or a con artist on her cunning. And who but the parent is more capable of being the child's advocate? Many parents act as though they were their teenager's prosecutor. the teasing of a teachers. but was rejected. In any dispute they come to the defense of a stranger rather than their own son or daughter. Some parents refuse to stand by their teenagers in their entanglements with the world out of fear of making them soft. It is easier to resolve incidents and restore peace when emotions have subsided and moods changed. there are many adults willing to prosecute him. a parent's response to his teenager should be different form that of anyone else. Father felt sympathy for his son and conveyed it effectively. didn't you? DAVID: I sure did.” Strong feelings tend to diminish in intensity and to lose their sharp edges when a sympathetic listener accepts them with understanding. FATHER: And you were so well equipped for it. However. was interviewed for a summer job. the rudeness of a waiter. Parents are their children's advocates.” and he stormed out of the house. the nagging of a neighbor.” “You must have really resented him at that moment. FATHER: You really wanted this job. David. or sanction misconduct. and humiliation. FATHER: What a disappointment. After emotional first aid has been administered. He returned home disappointed and depressed. FATHER: Looking forward to a job and having it slip away just when you need it is tough. DAVID: It sure is. They do not condone misbehavior. It is only fair that our child not be left without a defense attorney. The temptations to teach someone an instant lesson should be resisted.You always defend the other guy. Her task was to show her son that she understood his anger. and the brutality of a bully. David: Yeah. age seventeen. Like attorneys they operate within the law. a parent speaks to the heart. DAVID: Yeah! A lot of good that did me. I know. regardless of the offense they defend the accused. Lawyers do not encourage crime. In the most difficult situations they try to see the extenuating circumstances and to provide aid and hope.” “It must have made you angry. the insult of a classmate. A stranger speaks to the mind.” “It must have been humiliating. .
” 3. and your whole life is in front of you. “I don't see why you should feel so depressed. It's not worth even talking about. What we need is a friendly person to give us clear directions. If you didn't get one job. Cry and you will cry alone. Besides. You are still very young. By self-pity . put on clean clothes. and acknowledges opinions. He learns to doubt his own worth. They know the right people in the right places. If you miss one bus there will soon be another. When we take a wrong turn on a road and lose our way.” Seven roads to trouble The preceding situation could have been mishandled in several distinct ways: 1. I shined my shoes. Other people have all the luck. By “the trouble with you. and to belittle the value of others. Then David said. We don't know anyone. 7. “What did you expect? To get the first job you wanted? Life is not like that. I know how to make a good impression. A nonevaluative response contains neither praise nor criticism.” Parents can learn to avoid such hazards to effective communication. Life is so much a matter of luck. I'll find another job. and defiance. He learns to suspect people.” 6. It creates anger. I hope it will teach you not to count you chickens before they are hatched. I don't know what to tell you. 5. Yet the most helpful response to children is often nonjudgmental. and carried the Wall Street Journal with me. resentment. By “take me for instance. chin up. you know. It is not helpful to be asked: “Why did you take the wrong turn?” “Didn't you see the signs?” “Can't you read?” “Why don't you think before you turn?” . Instead. ” “When I was your age I went looking for my first job. Big deal! One job did not work out. perhaps a less crowded one. you are thin-skinned and easily hurt. They can learn to listen attentively and respond simply and sympathetically. the last thing we need is criticism. It is not helpful to have our driving skills and character analyzed and evaluated at this point. You lack poise and you are fidgety. There is really no good reason for you to be so discouraged. and to expect personal doom. My heart breaks. Smile and the world will smile with you.” 4. When a teenager is constantly criticized he learns to condemn himself and to find fault with others. “Everything happens for the best. By clichés. By a “Pollyanna” approach. So.There was silence for a moment. You may have to go to five or even ten interviews before you are hired. There are even worse effects. By minimizing the situation. You are too eager. Criticism is unnecessary. By reasoning. “It's not the end of the world. and not patient enough. it identifies feelings. The following statements by mothers illustrate helpful responses to emotional situations: “It's very hard to stay home sick” Chapter 4 – Criticism: a new approach Parental criticism is unhelpful. The nonjudgmental reply Adults usually react to their teenager's statements in one of two ways: they either approve or disapprove. got a hair cut. ” “The trouble with you is that you don't know how to talk with people. recognizes wishes.” 2. You always put your foot in your moth. “I am so sorry dear. you'll get another – perhaps even a better one. “ Rome was not built in one day.
Those who do not learn from the past are compelled to repeat it. I try hard not to inflict them on my children. I do the same to my children. Now I find myself using the same label with my son. He concentrated on one point: “What can be done to help with this difficult subject?” Father was not provoked to discuss the past or to make predictions about the future. I don't like myself when I do it. failed chemistry for the second semester. FATHER: Thank you. He forgot to do it and then made a last-minute attempt to do the job. He called Felix in for conversation. Helpful problem solving does not address itself to the personality. MRS. B: My father used to call me “stupid” and I hated it. In the hands of a more critical director this incident could have become a flaming drama. I don't like it at all. MRS. especially on the top and on the left side. age sixteen.“You always think you know the way. promised to wash the family car. you won't last one day on a job. MR.” Unhelpful criticism To be effective as parents we may have to unlearn some deeply ingrained lessons from our own childhood. It deals with difficult event. It never attacks the person. They gave them out generously. But when I get angry I can't seem to help myself. He maintained a problem-solving attitude. FATHER: Are you sure? SON: Sure. When she got angry she sang insults in Italian and in English! . Dad. I never did anything right and she always make me do things over. When Felix. I don't have to compose them. age fourteen. FATHER: Did you wash the car? SON: Yes. I'm sure! FATHER: Then why is it so dirty? It's filthy! It looks worse than it did before! SON: But I washed it! FATHER: You call that washing? You played – like you always do. I even use the same tone my mother did thirty years ago. I use exactly the same words my mother used against me.” “Can't you ask for directions?” A lesson in living Ed. A: When I get angry. He did not assign blame nor threaten with consequences. You're irresponsible – that's what you are! Helpful problem solving Constructive problem solving has one main function: To point out what has to be done in the situation. certain phrases come to my mind full-blown. Dad. Our aim is to avoid such blind repetition. C: I'm so used to being criticized that it comes naturally to me. D: My parents had a rich collection of insults in three languages. Fun – that's all you want! You think you can go through life like that? With such sloppy work. MR. The following excerpts from a parents' discussion group illustrate this point: MRS. When can you do it? ED: I can work on the car tonight. “We have a problem – let's find a solution. E: My mother was a singer. when I was a child. his father became alarmed. FATHER: The car needs more work.
They may give up sports and other social pursuits in which agility is required. age sixteen. hoping to escape ridicule. get a rag. We can learn to communicate without sarcasm and ridicule.All of us carry within ourselves a private collection of instant insults. Since competition means failure. and defiance. age fifteen. the cry over spilled glue would have spoiled the mood for the entire day. ‘Some captain!' At that moment. He can cut down in a minute what you have built in a month. They may forever remain true to a false motto: “If I don't try.' In a tone full of contempt. We see red. When Theodore. exasperated. I can't fail. I went mad. Teenagers who are repeatedly made to feel stupid eventually accept such evaluations as fact. I was on top of the world. I felt great. mad. the glue spilled. I said to my father. They are convinced that they can never be any good at them. It's hard to get it off the carpet. and purple with rage. dismayed. Says sixteen-year-old Stanley . In school they never volunteer. I won our school's tennis tournament. Mother was tempted to warn about “next time” but when she saw how grateful her daughter was she restrained herself. This relic of our past is a needless burden. Chapter 5 – Anger without insult The Sound of Fury The English language has a rich supply of expressions to give vent to all nuances of anger: We can be uncomfortable. Get a rag and some water. There is no place for biting comments in conversations between parents and teenagers. without smearing the personality. avoid homework. It is best to clean up the paint. and furious. we frown. angry. “The glue spilled. He's sloppy! He always was and always will be! There is no doubt that the cost of the ridicule far exceeded the cost of the rug. displeased. Mom. His tongue is like a whip.” Fay answered: “I'm sorry. MOTHER: How many times have I told you to be careful with paint? You always make a mess of things! FATHER: ( with disgust ): He can't help it. his parents became enraged. frustrated. When we call our teenagers “stupid” or “clumsy” or “ugly” there are reactions in their bodies and souls. “My father has a talent for sarcasm. and revenge. irritated. We flush. They skip tests. “The glue is so messy. we . spilled glue on the carpet. I yelled back. ‘Some father!' and I ran out of the room. provoked. enraged. a cycle of misery is created that makes family life a torture. Anger colors our vision: We turn white with anger.” Teenagers who are repeatedly called “clumsy” incorporate this evaluation into their selfimage.” Mother helped Fay clean up the mess while saying. They may give up intellectual pursuits. She tackled the problem. mother called out: “Oh.” Fay's mother dealt effectively with a sticky situation. Our eyes spit fire. chagrined. they act worse leading to another cycle of criticism. Last week. I just beat the captain of our tennis team. In the past. I was filled with such fury that I was afraid to stay near him. How does one price loss of confidence? Accidents should not trigger insults. Anger affects our whole bodies. Sarcasm evokes resentment and provokes counterattacks. Abusive adjectives attached to personality have a devastating effect. aghast. their safety depends on not trying. aggravated. We are livid with anger.” When Fay. and before final exams they get sick. inadvertently spilled paint on the rug. They react with resentment.” Criticism and self image Criticism of personality and character gives teenagers negative feelings about themselves. my father replied. indignant. punishment. We go blind. anger. She didn't attack her daughter. I should have been more careful. Thus. ‘Hey Dad. They may then feel guilty about their hostility and as we heap more criticism on them. We cannot see straight. annoyed.
defiant. Then he would punish me. temper. we sizzle. I can still hear him say. some insight to the teenager. Instead of trying to hide our irritation. denying. We blow our top. miserable. “Nice children don't talk like that. We blow our stack. we stew. We breathe fire and fury. It does mean that they can benefit from anger which says: “Enough is enough. F: When I was angry.” he would say. “Temper. it shows our concern. parents can express it in nondestructive ways. my father used to make fun of me. That's why you were so unkind to your brother. Those who love cannot avoid anger. Their force must be recognized and respected. We are full of consternation and we feel acrimonious. or moralizing. To do otherwise is to court disaster.” It is best not to be too patient with our teenagers. They tell of good intentions and lamentable results. I spent many hours in my room. I still despise my sister. We rave and rant. There are limits to my tolerance. She hated harsh words and ugly scenes. explaining. . not love. Turning Anger into Action Our anger has a purpose. Strong emotions.” Then I felt even worse. and no harmful aftereffects to either of them. “You must be tired and upset. and our blood boils. and wishing everyone were dead. and then let the storm subside. We want to get our point across. temper. Rest a little and you'll feel better.” she said. Whenever I was angry. These recollections are sad. our ears tingle.” C: My mother told me that there were two of me – an angel and a devil. It used to make me more furious. This does not mean that our teenagers can withstand torrents of rage and floods of violence. we consciously need to avoid creating waves of resentment and revenge. Yet we have such mixed feelings about anger. E: My mother suppressed any signs of anger. You must learn to rise above such feelings. My mother almost fainted. and raise the roof. We often dislike it in ourselves and disallow it in our children. We hit the ceiling. I remember I once told my sister that I hated her. cannot be reasoned with. They recalled their own childhood and related how their parents had reacted to turbulent emotions – to resentment. we can express it effectively. It is futile to address angry feelings with reasoning. How can we help our children deal with inevitable anger? A group of parents discussed this question. you must love her – always. “It's the devil in you that's acting up. “and now that you have one.” When angry. A: My father simply forbade me to be angry. We have such a rich anger vocabulary. we smolder. he explained to me that I was not really angry. Angry feelings do not vanish when banished. anger and hate. we become unlike ourselves: We fume. and their fury diverted and channeled. In expressing anger. “You asked for a sister. She warned me never to use such words. There is a lesson in these stories. Failure to get angry at certain moments indicates indifference.clench our fists. We fly off the handle. like turbulent rivers. Our nostrils quiver. “Who gave you the right to be mad at your mother? Who do you think you are?” B: My father was nicer. Attitudes Toward Anger Among the paradoxes of everyday life none is more surprising than our attitude toward anger. We have a “conniption fit. threatening.” To this day. Whenever I became angry she said.” D: Whenever I said something mean my mother would say. Our whole body shakes. How to be Angry Instead of trying to suppress anger altogether. We cultivate it and celebrate it even as we mistrust it. we flare up. This expression should bring some relief to the parents. we explode. we boil over. or talked out of existence.
” The purpose of these statements is to alert the teen to our distress. He bounced the ball twice more and left. under-stimulated students. age fifteen. generate good will. why do we still have so many insecure children.” “It makes me feel angry. The following incident illustrates the point. the mere statements of our irritation will bring results. and gave vent to her anger. Describe what you feel. we should acknowledge these truths: 1. The ball woke me up.” Gary gave me several more clinks and stopped. Compare this approach to a more prevalent one. started clinking his fork on a plate. More often than not. What if our teenager continues the annoying behavior? If our short protests and long faces have not brought relief then we express our feelings louder and stronger. Too often it has not kept its promise. Chapter 6 – Praise: a new approach Most adults believe that all honest praise is helpful to children. P-L-E-A-S-E!” It must be added that teens cannot stop on a dime. motivate learning. annoyed. . and improve human relations. She described her discomfort and took it for granted that he would respond. his mother said. not all is well with praise. It takes time to stop on one's own accord. It is necessary for them to go on with their misbehavior for a little while. age fifteen. Gideon demonstrated to himself that he stopped of his own volition. not because of orders. This method was effective because mother did not tell her son what to do. 2. Sudden Anger What if we are pushed beyond the brink of our endurance? What if our anger flares up suddenly and we are all-fired-up and ready to pounce.” said Gideon. No matter how angry we are. There are certain concrete ways to deal with our anger. “The noise makes me very uncomfortable. She was upset. Parents and teachers endorse praise without reservations. Father realized that the additional bouncing was a face-saving device. We are entitled to express our feelings. Praise is supposed to build confidence. At such times: Describe what you see. “What's the matter with you? Don't you have anything better to do? Can't you sit still? Do you have to give me a headache? Stop it this minute. Fourteen-year-old Gideon was playing basketball near his home early one Sunday morning. They serve as a warning about the limits of our tolerance.” “I'm sorry. irritated. took a bath. we do not insult teenagers' personalities and character. Described what needs to be done. When Gary . adding nothing else. increase security. The first step in any annoying situation is to describe clearly how it affects us.To deal with times of stress. The bouncing of the ball woke up his father. Roland. and deliberate delinquents? Apparently. with one limitation. stimulate initiative. Later. unmotivated underachievers. mother found several white towels all crumpled on the wet floor. If praise can accomplish all that. even angry. We accept the fact that in the natural course of events teenagers will make us uncomfortable. Do not attack the person. He said: “I wanted to sleep until ten o'clock today. “It is annoying. unchallenged dropouts.
Tell a girl she is pretty. anxiety.” It's lovely. . You are always so thoughtful. “I'm not really all that. Why do teenagers react to praise so defensively? Praise is an evaluation.” “I don't think it's that good. Emily. I feel better already. Praise is a sincere. It's so pretty and witty. all neatly taped. Edna would have been delighted. they sound defensive. more than anything else. Edna. and he is quick to point out its defects.” “I really can't take the credit for it. positive evaluation of a person. How do teenagers react to praise such as the following? “You are so smart. I wish you happiness. Apparently it is not easy to cope with praise. age twelve. often resentful. It may cause discomfort. “I wish you health. Why should sincere praise make her daughter ill? When mother praised her daughter so effusively. I do the best I can. Tell a boy he is good. It had on it an aspirin.” “You have done a wonderful job. this kind of praise seems to engender ill feelings. and he denies it. I like the card. For example: Thank you so much. Flattery is insincere and expedient. made a get-well card for mother. She said: “You are so considerate.” Edna grew pale. On the contrary. She knew she was sometimes selfish. Mother immediately suspected some relation between the praise and the reaction. Praise a teenager for his project. TEACHER: You are a good poet. perfectly thoughtful or unfailingly good. Praise the Poem not the Poet Emily.” “You are a great musician. I wish you happiness. as though praise were a bitter pill that is hard to swallow. A common response is derogation and denial.” “Well.” These statements do not reflect confidence or comfort. age thirteen. and she blushes.Praise Creates a Backlash Praise is not flattery. and the judged are anxious. ran into the bathroom and started crying. and misbehavior. not about the child.” “Flattery will get you nowhere. a penny. and a rose petal. You are such a good girl.” Not with joy. or an act. The inscription read: “I wish you health. wrote a poem. Appreciate the Effort Rather than Evaluate the Person Edna's mother was in the hospital seriously sick. Yet certain kinds of sincere praise may bring results opposite to those expected. And evaluation is uncomfortable. Edna felt guilty. guilt. and always imperfect. I wish you wealth. She knew she was not always considerate. The bold praise made Edna feel guilty and inadequate rather than pleased and peaceful.” Mother was touched by her daughter's thoughtfulness. I wish you wealth.” “It was luck. What could mother have said when she received the card? Something about the card. In short. The evaluator sits in judgment.
efficient. obedient. did a big job cleaning up the yard. clever. generous. Praise: Constructive and Destructive Praise can be destructive. Browning. Father did not praise Eric's personality. ERIC: It does? FATHER: It's a pleasure to look at it. Instead. In one day you cleaned it all up! Thank you. His father was impressed and praised him effectively. loyal. raked the leaves. Elliot. Praise that describes efforts. trustworthy.” Elliot may have concluded: “My poetry can make people feel happy. age thirteen. B. thus making her praise credible. wholesome. FATHER: The yard looks like a garden. or Byron. It puts one under an obligation to live up to the impossible. or sad. She may quickly conclude: “I can never write lyrics like Longfellow. helpful. resourceful. The teacher did not call Elliot “great” or “wonderful. diligent. In fact. He talked about his future aspirations and left gratified and encouraged. Elliot was delighted. not the poet. wrote a breezy spring poem. or longing. age sixteen. neat. Neither did he evaluate his character. but I know that I'm not. I could never write “Sonnets from the Portuguese. masterful. Her message was potent: “It was not Frost or Byron or any other poet that made me giggle with joy. friendly. vigilant. or Shelley. but you are good for your age.” “You are the most thoughtful person I know.” “You are so generous. he said . He mowed the lawn. He beamed and bubbled. It was you. He looked over the yard and described it. and zestful. accomplishments. or Keats. TEACHER: Well.” like Whitman. When Elliott. “List your personal weaknesses. and considerate. TEACHER: Why do you say that? You are great! EMILY: An Emily Dickinson I'm not and I'll never be.” like E. his teacher said: “I like your poem. joy giggles in my heart. or Frost. ERIC: It's nice. It is frightening to a young girl to be told: “You are a great poet. she showed appreciation for his poem. She did not praise him. polite. sober. No one can always be good. jolly.” Praise that evaluates personality or character builds pressure and feels unsafe. “You are always so good.' I felt joy giggling in my own heart. The teacher wondered why her honest praise met with such resistance and pessimism.” Such praise creates anxiety. and sprayed the trees. ERIC: Anytime.” But she made him feel so. kind. brave.EMILY: I wish I were. It is not human. EMILY: Unfortunately. She quoted his lines and talked of their impact on her.” he wrote: “Sometimes I am not all that. and feelings is both helpful and safe.” This is enough motivation to keep on writing.” It throws her into competition with all great poets – the living and the dead. Eric. useful. Advice for Emily's teacher: Praise the poem. An eighteen-year-old college applicant listed his personal strengths as follows: “Sometimes I am alert. Dad. FATHER: What a job. or “Leaves of Grass. gracious.” Where the application form said. When I read your lines: ‘On a spring morning.
he is a bent and spent old man. Yet.” In a letter to a friend. relying on facts and logic. With our own children.” The following statements were made by teenagers. He was a falling-down drunk. He is fair and not too stingy. It is cold and sterile. and tries to be impartial. or to watch a sunset. If enraged enough. the affection of the opposite sex. But he has a brute intellect. They can become defiant and delinquent. He has climbed the ladder of success. but it is not beyond our capacity. Where do we start? The Hebrew sages said: “The beginning of wisdom is silence. The boy used the money to have an expose of his father privately printed… which the son gave away free to anyone and everyone. settling on him a sum of money which was to be the last ever. We think and conceptualize. Time and energy are on their side. There is no way to win a war with our own children. we argue and reason. or pile up possessions. He wants to test my logic. the trust of friends. They can worry us to death or put us to public shame. He is overworked and worn out. they can strike back with awesome vengeance. or passive and neurotic. Now he is panicky. a teenage boy can steal a car and a teenage girl can get pregnant. Our house is filled with electronic gadgets. 246) Like Finnegan. They cannot win by attacking. If I make a comment or ask a question. I see greed and ambition. I wish he were less clever and more human! I wish he could do something on impulse. to take a walk. Don't Use Attack in Sheep's Clothing Chapter 7 – In our children's eyes The Limits of Logic As parents we ponder about life. He is miserable. They reject our notions of success: and seek their own rewards: The acceptance of peers. “A brute intellect. I often feel furious with him.” He felt motivated enough to offer his services as a gardener. This situation is illustrated by Elia Kazan in his novel. They have the key element: power to make choices.nothing about him as a person. put two and two together and concluded: “I've done a good job. however. only to find that it leads nowhere – except to more climbing. He follows every turn in my train of thought. these tools fail. Even if we mobilize and win a battle. My father is not a bad person. I do not want to amass fortunes. The only trouble in an otherwise idyllic prospect was Finnegan's son. he puts me through torture. Let us listen to them.” Says eighteen-year-old Harriet: “My father prides himself on being an intellectual. and then demonstrates that I am on the wrong track. all parents are vulnerable. He is tormented by headaches and doubts. Eric. This task may seem impossible. He thinks and theorizes. and all mixed up. I refuse to be like my father. and his logic is like sharp nails.” “I refuse to be like my father. Is my father happy? No. seventeen-year-old Harold wrote: “When I look at adults. There is only one way in which parents can win: By winning their children over to sensible ways. with relentless rationality. He sees all sides of every issue. My father owns nearly everything. I can't imagine him stopping by the roadside to pick a flower. Father is pleased. He is pressed by time and taxes. He only described the yard and his feelings of pleasure. himself. At his pinnacle of prominence. In many settings these maybe effective tools to cope with life. My parents are rich. His mind is a hard hammer. . In family relations logic has limitations: It does not warm the heart. He has fits of depression and his age is showing. the second stage is listening. (p. Teenagers contest our conclusions. determined… to do everything possible to blemish his father's public image… At one point Finnegan had disowned him. The Arrangement.
she controls her employees. She herself is not altogether human. So she is always frustrated. in school. I don't feel it. When he failed. She says he wants the best for me. He tried to hide it. Since early childhood. and in society. He tried hard to make me a carbon copy of his dream. yet the faculty is all white.” “I am becoming cynical. in his silence.” “I'm her only interest in life. My father does not live life. age sixteen: “My mother knows a good deal about science. he is deeply disappointed. She runs errands for me. Deep inside herself she knows how little they have lived. but she prays and hopes that no poor people move into our neighborhood. Our teenagers will need such courage to go against the crowd in refusing a drink. She is more like a controlled experiment. he calculates it. and she is trying to control me. but it came out in a hundred little ways – in his tone. “My father's dream. Mother is a liberal in politics. She has not tolerance for people. She never feels free. I want to live ethically. Mother works hard.” Says seventeen-year-old Michelle: “I take life seriously. she watches over me like a hawk. My mother too shares his search for gold. She controls her feelings. age seventeen: Chapter 8 – Social life: freedom and limits It is a credit to our teenagers that many reject phony popularity. and in making decisions about sexuality. she becomes hysterical. But she is disillusioned and bitter. avoid reckless driving. My father is very ethical in personal relations. she controls our home. in his words. In sickness and in health. Our school teaches equality. my homework. declining a smoke.” “The original Mrs. but he is almost a crook in business. Clean. Our home turns into a drug store full of antibiotics and chicken soup.” Says Nicole. he gave me up. a permanent feeling of failure.” “He tries to fit life into a formula. She is a chemist. I have discovered that hypocrisy is institutionalized. I sensed his disappointment. she never stops doing all kinds of unnecessary things for me.“I feel sorry for my parents” Says eighteen-year-old Stuart: “I feel sorry for my parents.” Says Howard. Life is just too disorderly for her. and my social life are her major concerns. But I am becoming cynical. How can she? She does not even know me. They have wasted their lives dreaming security. It is expected at home. Our message to our children should be: “We .” Says fifteen-year-old Monroe : “My mother is determined to make me happy. I'm her only interest in life. When he compares her to me. My health. He adds and subtracts and invests desperately.” Says Ralph. but very little about human beings. When I get sick. She says he loves me. and the courage to stand alone when necessary. Se has a great need for order and control. Our values should support faith in one's own feelings. But he left a deep scar. even if it kills her. age seventeen: “In my father's mind there is a picture of an ideal daughter. and tries to fit life into a formula. and the classes are only tokenly integrated. He is full of facts and figures – a regular IBM computer. I don't live up to my father's dream. Their life and safety may at times depend on their ability to be unpopular and resist parroting some precocious peers.
and going steady for an ever younger age. They think I don't go out enough. What I really love is horseback riding. Even if they don't like our words. She arranges parties and dates for me with the sons of her friends. But her parents objected. teenagers are in danger of . I then feel that there is something wrong with me.” Says fifteen-year-old Marilyn: “I would rather spend an evening with my girl friends than with a boy I do not like. gave a slumber party to which she invited ten girls. Senior High: Autonomy and Guidance In senior high school.” The following statements are examples of undesirable pressure: Father to son: “You are almost fifteen. I think you are only ten. and to allow boy-girl interest to develop at a natural pace. Distressed and in conflict. Other boys your age are already going out with girls.” A dramatic stand on values makes a strong impact on our teenagers. Many youngsters would not choose them voluntarily. to avoid rushed sexual awakening. But my parents push me into dating. I find it boring. the formal wear. a teenager feels grown-up. loyalty to a friend takes precedence over popularity. (I have won three ribbons in jumping. and resents limits on his autonomy. Junior High: Sensible Programs and Timetables Many parents have become alarmed by the premature social and sexual activities of their children: The ballroom dancing.” A fifteen-year-old girl wrote to a magazine columnist: “My mother keeps after me about boys. Teenagers should not be rushed toward adulthood. In many communities. The shy.) When I tell it to my mother she gets upset and cries. padded bras for eleven-year-olds. We put personal decency above social success. They made it clear that a friend is not to be discarded because of pressure. reading to dancing. She was informed that many of them would not attend if one of her friends came to the party. Supervised group activities may be more appropriate than dating and romance at this age. They derive pride and dignity from our insistence on courage and fairness. Paired parties and dating are a burden to many boys and girls. The intent is to reverse the trend. the party clubs. Even in nursery school I failed milk. age thirteen.” Janet. and the late-bloomer can be hurt before they have the time to blossom naturally. They are angry when I turn down a date. He is nearing independence. but when I see your comic books. The Case Against Early Dating Teenagers are often pushed into dating by parents who want them to be popular.value integrity more than popularity. They allow paired parties for twelve-year-olds. they respect our strength and value our integrity. Janet was ready to yield. the sensitive. Yet adults cannot relinquish their guidance. and the steady dating.” Says fourteen-year-old Fern: “I would rather spend the evening reading than going to a silly party. At this age. and fishing to dating. But my mother keeps telling me that she does not want books to interfere with my social life. Father said: “In our home. They should be allowed to continue for a while longer to prefer baseball to parties. parents and teachers have been meeting to discuss sensible programs and suitable timetables for teenage activities. As comedian Woody Allen said: “Since infancy I felt like a failure.
Her curfew varies with the occasion.' My daughter listened with surprise. Love was something spiritual and private. who is going steady. I once said to her: ‘Let me also have a good time instead of a worried time when you are out. I had a long talk with her about the ethics of dating. but was scared to give him up.” “My sixteen-year-old daughter wanted to ditch a date. in order to be seen with a VIP: a baseball star. “Chaste make waste. tell him that I'm sick.'” “Our daughter leaves us a note before going out on a date. This solved a painful situation.'” “I asked my seventeen-year-old daughter. My mother used to say that “All men are alike.over-crowding their social life to the detriment of academic achievements. self-control was a virtue.” “My daughter calls when she is late on a date. The following statements by parents of senior high school students illustrate some typical conflicts and attempted helpful solutions: “We allow our fifteen-year-old to date. I freeze. I don't want my son and daughter to feel that way. She may not like these restrictions. The subject was sex. A: I come from a strict and old-fashioned family. provided there is mutual love. She responds in kind. C: Sex has always been a puzzle to me.' I think she does not mind knowing that we care for her.” “I discovered that my daughter has been dating for status.' ‘Yes. but we believe they help her feel protected. D: In the old days. “Chastity has no more value than malnutrition. a college . She ignored her own feelings. The she added. but we insist on meeting her boy friends and on knowing where they are going.'” Chapter 9 – Teenage sex and human values A Discussion on Sex: Six Parents – Six Different Views A group of mothers deeply worried about their teenagers met to discuss a common concern. I dreamt of romance but I never talked about it with my parents. Sex was never discussed in our home.' ‘Yes.' ‘I want to go to the beach and Irving doesn't have a car.' she answered defensively. She asked me to cover for her. The discussion illustrates how differently six persons from on community feel about this issue. ‘If Irving calls.' My husband answered. My son laughed at me when I once said that two rabbits got married. She tells us where she can be reached in case of emergency. ‘I guess I'd better call him and cancel our date. Her older brother. ‘It's not easy but I'll have to do it. She used to resent our prying. We treat her with respect. B: I have the same problem. call. Conflict with parents and teachers are almost inevitable. ‘How are you going to know if there is someone else you would like even more?' She admitted that she was bored with her boyfriend. a sports car owner.” “My sixteen-year-old daughter questioned the midnight curfew. ‘I feel it is unfair to stand up anyone without an explanation or an apology. ‘I hope you will make good decisions at any hour. I couldn't bring myself to say they mated. I stutter. a class president. She said: ‘One can get into trouble at any hour. I said: ‘A Date is not a decoration. Our daughter knows that we expect her home by eleven o'clock. Despite all my efforts. She said. The note is a face saving device. Now it is a vice.” I was taught that sex was ugly. I don't know what's right and what's wrong. ‘It's not easy to make such a decision. I hope she got the point. Midnight is a reasonable hour to be home. I said. It's scary to face a dateless weekend. Whenever my teenager asks me anything about sex.' I refused. ‘You wish you had a date with someone who has a car.' said my daughter with obvious relief. It is a human relationship.” says my nineteen-year-old daughter. I feel embarrassed.' she said.” My college sophomore believes that it is all right to have sex. I find it terribly upsetting when my daughter asks me questions about sex. my face turns crimson. When you are going to be late. They want only one thing. I answered.
Morality depends on knowledge. We cannot put a dam on the flow of life but we can teach how to swim in turbulent waters. “The bee may fly from flower to flower. I'm afraid I have succeeded too much. All I can see is that it will lead to superficial infatuations. I can't sanction it. fear. B: It's not easy to change old attitudes. They feel invulnerable. about lovemaking. I wanted her to be safe. There is a terrible gap between her sexual wants and her emotional maturity. Teenagers fall in love and make love. I was determined to be free of culturally induced complications. beautiful Linda. It may be good for boys. If women are to be really free. They play Russian roulette with their young lives. But we had paid a terrible price in anxiety.” Today we found out that Linda had not been infected.” A: Sexual freedom is fine. the issue is not “chastity versus loss of virginity. but not for my daughter. E: You daughter could use some “bad” influence and some sex education.senior. “but sex without love is better than nothing. “We don't know for sure that you are infected.” I made love without guilt or remorse. C: Many young people don't want to use contraception. But I don't want to know about it. My first impulse was to kill her and butcher the boy. I would not worry about her behavior. Despite all intellectual education I'm a prude. as long as there is mutual enjoyment. Only time can bridge this gap. erotic involvements.” F: When I was young I pasted on my bathroom mirror Hemingway's ethical manifesto: “What's moral is what you feel good after. do something right. I do not believe that virtue depends on abstinence. the apple of her father's eye. Three days ago I found my daughter all curled up in bed crying like a baby. But I am concerned about my beautiful daughter. A Conflict of Values . I was not indifferent to my parents' feelings but I wanted to be independent of their moral judgments. There is little we can do about it. and contraception. For me. We must provide them with knowledge and protection. If she were mature. but the flower must never go from bee to bee. A doctor can tell us. They prefer to live dangerously. But she is not. She thought she had contracted a sexually transmitted disease. What's immoral is what you feel bad after. But now I am a mother of a teenage daughter. Therefore. And I am confused. I don't want her to consult me or to share with me. I have told her true stories. “Sex with love is fine. I am immortal. C: If I live through this week. I still believe it is a sin. I don't want her to get pregnant. I wish I weren't but I am. My seventeenyear-old is so naïve. about what can happen to young girls. I'll never die. I said. I think teenagers should know about sexual matters. except to instruct them in the safe use of contraception.” E: I am a liberal mother. but not for girls. A: I have tried to keep my daughter away from boys. All this talk about sexual liberation and meaningful relationships means only one thing to me: premarital sex. But an inner voice warned me: Don't attack. I don't want her to be exploited. E: I am tired of the double standard. I wish she were more sophisticated and world-wise. What do I do till then? E: It's time to stop teaching old prejudices about sex. My sweet. conception.” He believes that it is all right to have sex without love. D: It's obvious that the fear of venereal disease and of pregnancy does not stop young people from sex. D: I'm concerned with the welfare of my daughter. is more “advanced. Be helpful! When things go wrong. We were relieved of a nightmare. I can accept the idea that she will have sex before marriage. sex education and birth control must be accepted openly. Intellectually. not ignorance.” he explained. and shame. and heartbreak.” but “responsible love versus promiscuity. and of course. I don't want this flower to end up in a fool's buttonhole. we must show them how to handle their sexuality.
was window shopping. Another father said: “Sex may have gone as public as AT&T but I want not share in it. Mom. ( Reads second note. Nana's face fell. age seventeen. They fear that such liberty will encourage license.” Mother said. indignantly.This discussion reflects a deep conflict of values. What is our society's true attitude toward sex? What is our conception of high morality? We have models of wealth and ideals of heroism. It demonstrates the ability of both teenagers and parents. It tells of their separate struggles for self-respect and of their mutual trials to live in less discord. MOTHER: I see two notes. it would have tasted like poison. a parent could afford to be cordial and sympathetic. I thought you should know that Ronald hasn't been doing his social studies homework. you know. They are worried about sexually transmitted diseases. Even with a limited budget. Money doesn't grow on trees. Some parents feel that the time has come to accept the new reality. We know what is great in art and who excels in science. and said defiantly. Nana's mother could have said. Ronald has not been doing the work assigned to him in English literature. A Loud Lesson in Hate Nana. Let's have lunch. But as a society. “Enough of this nonsense. RONALD: Oh. to grow. I would appreciate hearing form you. She gave her mother a cold look. MOTHER: ( Reads the first note. Chapter 10 – To learn. It presents a series of short stories of their efforts to coexist and relate. A.” Mother could have granted in fantasy what she could not give in reality. ) Dear Mrs. As one father put it: “The main task of youth is to study and to acquire knowledge. They hope to avoid these dangers through candid sex education. unwanted pregnancies and ruined reputations.'” Some parents find even discussion of sex repugnant and in bad taste. “You wouldn't buy me expensive clothes even if you were a millionaire. I forgot to show it to you. This incident deserved a different ending. Nana followed mother into a restaurant. to grow. I have a note for you to sign. to change. Your father works hard for a living. we lack models of moral excellence. even when the goal is selfcontrol. We can't make ends meet as it is. A. These parents believe strongly that even in this era of changing mores appropriate parental models can assure desirable teenage conduct. all term. Some of them would supply their older teenagers with information and contraception. to change This chapter consists of vignettes about parents and teenagers and their ways of coping with each other. Your heart seems so set on it. Other parents reject these measures. yeah. ) Dear Mrs.” Feet dragging and full of resentment. The mood between mother and daughter was spoiled beyond repair. To accomplish this task it is best to keep the ‘lid on the id. Even if they had ordered filet mignon. It's from my teacher. As one parent put it: “Only when we adults set a decent example and demand decent behavior will children become the kind of people we want them to be. They feel that society cannot sanction teenage sex because early erotic awakening may endanger civilization. A Conversation about Homework RONALD ( age twelve ): Oh.” Some parents fear that sex talk will stimulate sex acts. He must do his reading as well as his social studies. attitudes speak louder than words. . “I wish our budget allowed me to buy you this coat. A harsh voice was heard: “You have enough clothes to open your own store.” The atmosphere chilled instantly. Her eyes were glued to an expensive coat.” The question is: How can teenagers maintain desirable standards in a society that is frankly sex-oriented? A Public Paradox In matters of sex.
maybe I could put a sign on my desk: “Don't forget the homework books. RONALD: Yes. Like with your guitar. He says… RONALD: Tell her that from now on I'll bring my social studies book home. And. I know how to start the letter.) RONALD: So what will you do? MOTHER: The question.MOTHER: ( after a long pause ): This is a very serious matter! RONALD: I know. so you also need to learn to use time wisely. .” MOTHER: You think a sign might help your remember? RONALD: Maybe. RONALD: But that's the thing! I wanted to play the guitar. MOTHER: ( Sits quietly. I appreciate your bringing it to our attention. It's getting yourself to want to do it. You dictate to me how you plant to take care of the problem. I don't use time wisely. You didn't yell or make a big thing of it. But you decided that you could. Anything else? RONALD: Tell her I'll have the assignment ready by Monday. I can't change now. Mom. looking concerned. The silence is heavy . You see. I'll read aloud as I write. Ronald is: What will you do? I know that when you want to do something. Cars and Finances This incidence was told by a mother of an eighteen-year-old boy. I also told him that his father would not sign a loan for him. This is a very serious matter! RONALD: Well. RONALD: Right. MOTHER: He says that he plans to use his time more wisely. MOTHER: Oh. I don't I just chew on my pencil and stare into space – like this. but I don't want to do homework! MOTHER: I see. MOTHER: Um. I never did have it. “My son came home with great ideas about buying a new car for himself. But it isn't just that. But I can't help it. I just don't have a habit of doing homework. not since first grade. it is an extremely important matter. ) So what'll you write? MOTHER: Well. that's the problem. This is a very serious matter. I have discussed the problem with Ronald. Richard got angry and accused me of not understanding his needs. ( Long silence. He had already checked the facts and figures with a car dealer. All he needed was his father's signature for a bank loan. I don't know what's the matter with me. Like when we're finished with one page we are supposed to go on to another one. I didn't yell because I feel confident that once you take charge of the problem it will be solved. And tell her that I'm going to stop wasting time. You worked at it every night. hmmm ( picks up note and stares at it again ). All right? RONALD: ( sounding relieved ): Gee. MOTHER: It is a very big thing . Ronald showed me your two notes. even if it's hard. and you learned to play. It's no use. RONALD: Yes. You tell me if it meets with your approval: Dear Teacher. MOTHER: Ronald says he plans to bring home his social studies workbook. And there's another thing with me. “I made the mistake of immediately telling him that he could not afford a car. Everybody does his homework except me. MOTHER: Ronald also says he plans to do his reading and bring in the assignment on Monday. you do it. Mom. Nobody believed you could play that big instrument. But make no mistake.
age seventeen.'” .' “Two weeks later Norman accepted the invitation and signed a contract. He admired Richard's selection and taste. was offered the position of art director in a camp. sympathetic. “This solution satisfied Richard. But I kept my faith. “I had to control myself from insisting that he accept the offer immediately.' Norman answered. But I kept on thinking: ‘He is no puppet. Father suggested that after Richard had banked a set amount of money. he seemed disturbed. a loan could be taken out. But he was not overjoyed.“When his father came home Richard spoke to him about the car. The invitation was most flattering to him. It was a long two weeks for me. His dad agreed to go to the car dealer. They concluded that even with Richard's summer earnings he could not manage to pay for a new car. I kept on saying to myself: ‘He must direct his own drama. and discuss the purchase. My part is to stay in the audience. In fact. You'll have to give it much thought. It is his time and age to be on stage.' I allowed him to make up his own mind. ‘It's a tough decision.” A Job Offer: Who Decides? This story was told by a mother who had struggled hard with herself to allow her son autonomy: “My son. I said. The matter was set amicably. The praise made him uneasy. They sat down together and figured the finances. prayerful and proud. ‘I'm not certain that this is what I really want to do this summer. I need time to decide.