TOUGHLOVE SOLUTIONS by Phyllis; David York & Ted Wachtel York


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Further elaboration on the Toughlove approach to dealing with unruly teens (""acting-out young people"")--which, as its founders note, has become a movement and a byword. One chapter describes the meeting of a Toughlove group--parents confiding their problems, setting long-term goals and weekly ""bottom lines,"" swapping ideas and pledging one-on-one support. (""I can't stand his filthy room. . . . You wouldn't believe. . . ."" ""Yes, we would believe. . . . That's a very popular beef among Toughlove parents. And dirty dishes in the bedroom are a good indication of marijuana use. Dope smokers get very hungry."") One chapter decries psychology, and its concepts, as ""part of the problem""--in blaming parents, providing excuses, counseling ""consistency"" and ""openness"" (when parents are often faggedout, when their kids talk back and lie). Then successive chapters deal with specific issues--families, runaways, sex, suicide, incest, drugs and alcohol--and dramatize why parents have been drawn to the movement: the social upheavals, the quest for a substitute ""extended family."" (Toughlove parents take over for one another--providing shelter, for instance, when a young person is barred from the family home.) This is not entirely a matter of hard-line simplicisms: on sex, in particular, there's considerable give. (The Moral Majority is twitted for wanting ""to lead us back to the good old days."" Parents of homosexuals are eased into acceptance; a lesbian mother is helped to end her son's blackmail. The parents of a young unwed mother--who bucked their preference for an abortion--find a modus vivendi.) On the other hand, the discussion of suicide begins, chillingly: the suicidal young ""are not, as popular belief would have it, suffering long-standing depression. Rather they are mostly unrealistic, having expectations greater than life is likely to fulfill."" But the actual advice--warning signs, countermeasures--is unexceptionable. (Reach out, have ""honest, accepting discussion,"" maybe even get ""professional help."") Toughlove, in sum, isn't only tough talk and concrete action--still, for guidance, even Toughlove parents would benefit from the insights in How to Survive Your Adolescent's Adolescence (p. 568), by Robert Kolodny and others.

Pub Date: Sept. 21st, 1984
Publisher: Doubleday