LIVING WITH TEENAGERS by

LIVING WITH TEENAGERS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

More comfort than concrete advice will be found in this handbook for parents of teenagers. The lively anecdotes that provide appropriate elaboration of general points usually have happy endings (even the authors, an M.D. and a psychoanalyst, were wild in their youth); and the assumption that the ""debonding"" of adolescence will be followed by adult ""rebonding"" offers hope for the future even if the present is only grime, insolence, and locked doom. As a framework for understanding both the teenager and his relationships, the Rosenbaums' ""debonding"" notion works well--the adolescent is trying out new behaviors, new friends, new ideas, all because of his emerging need to become truly independent. It's a time, they say, for parents to be available to their children, to listen (a full chapter offers good techniques), and to avoid being judgmental or defensive when the inevitable efforts to ""dethrone"" the parent occur. The crunch comes with conflicts of values and mores, however, and here some parents will find the suggestions laissez-faire: in the areas of love and sexuality, parents should ""state their preferences, educate [youngsters] about practical and emotional responsibilities, and trust them to make sound decisions""; drug experimentation is seen as virtually inevitable, and parents are simply urged to help their children learn to ""cope with living problems with inner resources,"" not with chemicals; a ""taboo will be seen as an invitation to try drugs."" And given the investment many parents have in their children's success and behavior, the stress on letting teens learn from their own errors--whether it's a shallow girlfriend who finds a date with a bigger car, or no clean underwear because it wasn't in the hamper--may be hard for them to credit, much less act upon. On issues like shoplifting, dropping out and step-parenting, suggestions are concrete and to the point; others receive inadequate treatment (truancy will be outgrown, single parents need to be open and reassuring). There's little here about discipline or punishment, sanctions or limits (though parents are urged to say no if they think they should); but there is considerable reassurance for parents ready to let their teenagers go.

Pub Date: Oct. 3rd, 1980
Publisher: Stein & Day