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FIELD GUIDE TO THE AMERICAN TEENAGER by Michael Riera

FIELD GUIDE TO THE AMERICAN TEENAGER

A Parent’s Companion

By Michael Riera (Author) , Joseph Di Prisco (Author)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-7382-0267-3
Publisher: Perseus

A lively, wise, and user-friendly translation of bewildering teen-aged behavior.

Riera is an author, educator, and media expert on adolescence and parenting (the Oxygen network and other major TV shows), while Di Prisco is a writer who has taught adolescents for decades. For all the significant issues taken up, there are realistic scenarios that provide tools for discussion. In the "Drinking and Driving" chapter, the authors tell us why the Designated Driver takes too much marijuana (offered by a girl he likes) and why his inebriated friend is willing to drive home (not miss curfew). Another frightening case involves school violence: a high school freshman hesitates to report a gun because he fears being pegged as a "narc." Other areas where teenagers test their newly expanded limits involve date rape and drug use. Riera and Di Prisco assure us that it's rarely about getting sexual release or getting high, but rather a matter of social status and self-worth. Since high-school students are unlikely to discuss problems with adults, the authors advise us to get information more subtly, from friends and peers. If communication across the generation gap is strained, we are warned that the young of different ages tend to "talk over and past each other." More common crises taken up here include academic cheating, eating disorders, clashes with a job supervisor, depression, and romantic heartbreaks. When it comes to problems that they didn't cause, like parental divorce or being born with a learning disability, young people slowly learn to accept that life isn't fair—but is survivable. Sure, parents are helpless before the mystery of their child's love life, but empathy never prevents Riera and Di Prisco from advising parents to set firm guidelines.

"Parenting is not a science; it's an art": the authors avoid smug formulae and write in a colloquial, jargon-free style.