A sensible analysis of the turmoil that adolescence triggers within parents. While most of the research regarding adolescence has centered on teenagers, Laurence Steinberg (Psychology/Temple Univ.; You and Your Adolescent, not reviewed) focuses on their parents, contending that when the firstborn child reaches adolescence, the entire family is affected. Adolescence, he argues, is often more stressful for parents than for the youngsters. He feels that the midlife crisis is triggered not so much by work or worries about physical decline, but ``by the intersecting journeys of the adolescent and the middle-aged parent.'' Recognizing the dramatic physical changes in their maturing children forces parents to confront their own aging and mortality. Watching a child's emerging sexuality can trigger a wide range of emotions, from mere discomfort to outright jealousy. It is not uncommon, contends Steinberg, for parents to compare themselves with their children; a father, for example, who was socially awkward as a teenager may find himself envious of his son's popularity. Along with adolescent social success comes the inevitable shutting out of the parents, which may make them feel abandoned. All of these feelings and reactions often spill over into marriage and work. Almost 90% of couples experience marital difficulties during their firstborn's adolescence. Steinberg backs up his thesis with many case studies, which are, however, not representative of diverse classes and cultures. He offers practical coping advice, urging parents to be aware of their conflicting emotions, to modify their family relationships to fit their child's emerging independence, and to nurture personal interests that allow them some distance from parenting. A practical, solidly researched and documented parents'-eye view of adolescence.
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