I found this newly-released book at a bookstore the other day and couldn’t resist buying it. Written by a couple of comedians and a therapist, the back cover reads: “Is it any wonder … Most people go through mid-life crises when their kids are teenagers? … Fewer parents are grounding their teenagers–to avoid being stuck at home with them?” And so on. The authors describe their book pretty well in the intro: “This is not a book about parenting teenagers. It’s a book on how to survive parenting teenagers.”
In my parenting seminars I usually tell parents that how you treat teenagers often determines how they respond, how they behave, how they feel. If you treat them as problems, they’ll give you problems. If you treat them like children, they’ll act like children. If you have a low view of them, they’ll live down to our expectations. We are in a sense mirrors to help them determine their identity and self-image.
So in our seminars we try to help parents appreciate the positive aspects of adolescence and encourage them to “catch their kids in the act of doing something good” whenever possible. Discouraged parents only discourage their children.
Needless to say, I don’t think I’d want to leave this book lying around the house for my kids to see.
To be fair, there’s actually some pretty decent parenting advice between the covers. For example, the authors advise against over-indulging teenagers with money and material things:
“First off, realize that teenagers are expensive to maintain. (Think of them as yachts with messy rooms.) Secondly, make sure they realize it too. The more you can steer your teen toward Appreciation and away from Entitlement, the better your chances of maintaining some non-gray hairs. This is where you dust off your ‘When I was your age, my allowance was a nickel and I wasn’t allowed to spend it all in one place!’ stories. You know you have them. And if you don’t, use the ones your parents told you.”
The book was written by Joanne Kimes and R.J. Colleary with Rebecca Rutledge, PhD.