A provocative, well-documented assessment of adolescence as a time of risk-taking. Ponton (Psychiatry/Univ. of California, San Francisco) challenges the prevailing notion that adolescence is naturally a turbulent time for both teens and their parents. Adolescence, she contends, is a time of risk-taking, most of which is positive and healthy. In fact, 80 percent of young people manage this developmental period without significant difficulties, engaging in the kinds of risks which allow them to develop their potential as they mature. It's the remaining 20 percent that is the focus of Ponton's book. Ponton presents the case histories of 15 troubled adolescents from her clinical practice who were unable to navigate their teen years without taking unhealthy risks. The teens are a diverse group, ranging from an inner-city mother who fears that she will once again become pregnant to the daughter of a surgeon who has begun cutting herself in a desperate attempt to signal that she needs help. Although the factors that trigger unhealthy risk-taking are as varied as the risk-takers, a number of patterns emerge. Parents who are so deeply involved in their own daily struggles that they have neither the time nor energy to communicate with their children often put them at risk, as do those parents who become overly involved with their teens and view them as buddies. With divorce so prevalent, too many parents treat their children as peers rather than as youngsters in need of parental guidance. Teens need, insists Ponton, adults to guide them in making choices and to provide them with constructive opportunities to engage in healthy risk-taking. Adults, too, must be constantly on guard against negative risk behavior. Worthwhile reading for parents and teachers, and for professionals who come in contact with teens.
Pub Date: Sept. 10, 1997
Page Count: 320
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1997
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