A longtime social worker offers advice on raising adolescents in his debut.
Bentley presents a variety of practical, thoughtful approaches for parents and educators to help children navigate their emotions in adolescence. The author contends there are three stages of adolescence, and in each stage, the child struggles while attempting to reach certain levels of autonomy. He discusses how adolescents can experience anxiety, fear and sadness as they move on from childhood and how problems arise as teens struggle to separate from their families. “Adolescents must cross the threshold of fear into adolescent responsibilities, self-discovery, and independence,” Bentley writes. The author, a school social worker, has more than 20 years’ experience working with children and teens with behavioral problems, and he discusses specific cases here, including triumphs and tragedies. He also relates touching, funny personal stories about his own childhood in a large family and reflects on how his own aberrant behavior was influenced by his desperate need for one-on-one time with his parents. Throughout the book, Bentley focuses on growth and healing, mainly through psychoanalytic methods. However, he also explains methods which teens can practice on their own. He highlights the importance of celebrating rites of passage, using teachable moments and encouraging teen employment. He advises that teens use journals for self-reflection and dream analysis. He strongly urges limiting computer time; children who excessively use computers become “trapped in the dependency of the digital world of cyberspace,” he writes. The book does get a bit repetitive; at the end of each chapter is a bulleted list of key points, which are repeated at the book’s end. The author also doesn’t discuss mental health issues that may have an organic cause, such as chemical imbalances, which might necessitate medication as a form of treatment. Overall, however, Bentley has created a strong foundation for readers to try to better understand children and teens.
An insightful book to help parents and educators become smart, sensitive and strong caregivers.