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The Parents' and Educators' Manual of Teenage "Rebirth": How to Prepare Teens for Victorious Transitions into Adolescence and Beyond

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Overview

Adolescence marks a special and unique stage in human growth and development, but it can be an extremely challenging time for both parents and teenagers. In The Parents' and Educators' Manual of Teenage "Rebirth," author Bruce G. Bentley provides an understanding of how teenagers think, feel, and experience themselves in relation to others and the world with the goal of assisting them in their battle to master adolescence.

To help those caring for teens gain a greater ...

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Overview

Adolescence marks a special and unique stage in human growth and development, but it can be an extremely challenging time for both parents and teenagers. In The Parents' and Educators' Manual of Teenage "Rebirth," author Bruce G. Bentley provides an understanding of how teenagers think, feel, and experience themselves in relation to others and the world with the goal of assisting them in their battle to master adolescence.

To help those caring for teens gain a greater understanding of child and adolescent psychology, Bentley applies principles of those disciplines, along with psychologically pertinent literature, to real-life stories of puberty, bullying,
aggressive behavior, abuse, and suicide. This manual provides parents and educators with effective tools to understand, inform, challenge, and guide teens through adolescence so they can develop an independent and strengthened adulthood. It also offers teens a descriptive road map of what they can expect and what they can do to help ease anxieties and fears as they encounter life's uncertainties; it helps them to be better prepared for the changes or "rebirths"
into new realms of relationships and responsibilities.

The Parents' and Educators' Manual of Teenage "Rebirth" aims to ease the journey through the dark, mysterious, and wonderful world of adolescence· with its joys and struggles·and beyond.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781475945102
  • Publisher: iUniverse, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/15/2012
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.57 (d)

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The Parents' and Educators' Manual of Teenage "Rebirth"

How to Prepare Teens for Victorious Transitions into Adolescence and Beyond
By Bruce G. Bentley

iUniverse, Inc.

Copyright © 2012 Bruce G. Bentley
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4759-4510-2


Chapter One

Adolescence: The Rite of Passage

I believe that this chapter provides vital information for parents and educators not only to better understand adolescence per se, but to devise a strategic plan to inform the pubescent youth or teen of the vast changes during adolescence. Change into any unknown situation often evokes anxiety and fear in us, and I believe this stands as a central aspect of adolescence and the core reason some teens struggle through this period. The description of adolescent psychology and the story on puberty below will depict this anxiety and fear. Therefore, we can better prepare pubescent youth and teens for adolescence by providing information—a kind of a road map—about what they can expect and what they need to do on this journey into the unknown terrain of adolescence. In knowledge abides power, and through knowledge youth and adults can become victorious over this universal obstacle of fear.

Adolescence marks a time of change in the body, mind, and emotions. I believe this growth period compares to the importance of the first twenty-four months of infancy. Anyone can observe these changes as teens experiment with different attire, attitudes, and opinions. Adolescents simply seek a way to sort out their changing social roles and identities in the world. These changes naturally occur at different times for each person. A general understanding or framework of adolescence proves important. A helpful way to grasp the process of adolescence rests with a basic knowledge of the three stages of adolescence—early, middle, and late. At each stage, teens have a psychological task to accomplish.

Early Adolescence

Puberty initiates the early stage at twelve to fourteen years of age.

The Stages of Adolescence

A natural psychological crisis evolves for the youth since separation from childhood and dependency triggers the loss of innocence and the carefree world of girl/boyhood. Movement toward independence comprises the key psychological task. Independence means being self-sufficient at managing one's age-appropriate responsibilities, such as completing homework, maintaining a clean bedroom, taking on a small job like cutting lawns or babysitting, and spending more time with friends. Teens should still adhere to the rules and structure of their parents' household, but parents should be flexible and let go and hold youth responsible for the above tasks. Teens will only mature if they face the challenges of life's stresses and the joys of its success, as exemplified in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. During Harry Potter's arduous quest to find the Elder Wand, he recalls, "Dumbledore usually let me find out stuff for myself. He let me try my strength, take risks" (Rowling 2007, 433). Similarly, the psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung (1991, 56–57) emphasized that the most important function of schools rests not in teaching knowledge but in producing genuine men and women who stand as independent and unique individuals separate from their families. Therefore, if caregivers fail to give youth a degree of autonomy during this early stage, then serious problematic behaviors could develop, particularly during middle adolescence.

Author's Suggestions for Parents and Educators

The following strategies will help caregivers assist youth as they adapt to adolescence and create an environment of autonomy during this early phase:

1. Throw a celebration that simulates a rite of passage at age thirteen. A birthday party acknowledges to the youth and family that he has separated from childhood into the milestone of adolescence. This event compares in purpose to rites of passage used in primitive cultures to help youth create a necessary psychological shift from dependent-child thinking and social roles toward an attitude and role of increased responsibility, accountability, and independence (see "Rites of Passage" below). A symbolic gift like a purse for a female and a wallet for a male would be another appropriate gesture. The important part is the verbal acknowledgment and celebration by the parents and family of this developmental milestone.

2. Teach children about the emotional changes of adolescence. Early adolescence is the crucial time when parents and educators have the strategic opportunity to begin informing youth about the three stages of adolescence in order to help the teen adapt and help ease possible anxieties and fears. At this age, teens are less defensive and more receptive to this information than in later stages because they have not yet experienced the cognitive-emotional surge of midadolescence (see "Middle Adolescence" and "The Great Barrier" below). Consequently, children in this age group generally understand this psychology more than older teens because they experience less fear of their emotions. Therefore, this information will better prepare the youth for midadolescence. I suggest that parents review adolescent psychology at each birthday or periodically, whenever a teachable moment arises. Moreover, I suggest providing your child with this general information on puberty and early adolescence when he or she is eleven years old. Start incorporating words like responsibility, accountability, and independence into your conversations as a reminder to the preteen of the path she's on.

3. Provide household chores or informal jobs such as babysitting or lawn cutting. These activities will strengthen an individual's sense of responsibility, independence, and selfhood. I believe that the simple responsibility of maintaining one's bedroom reflects on the individual. Maintaining a clean room teaches a child self-organization, structure, and order that will carry over into other aspects of his life, such as school and community involvement. Our bedrooms or homes symbolically mirror our identity, attitudes, values, beliefs, and so forth.

4. Discard the possessions of childhood. At an appropriate time, parents and youth could gather the possessions of childhood, including games, dolls, or toy soldiers, and give these to a younger sibling or relative. This can be another powerful, symbolic gesture of "letting go" of childhood. But if your youngster expresses discomfort with this task, bypass it. The child might not be ready, and you can try another time. These suggestions are simply guides, and parents should use their creativity and to feel free to experiment and discover what works best with their children.

5. Bestow gifts on special days, such as graduation from elementary school. During these occasions, rewarding or even spoiling your child is appropriate. But excessive spoiling weakens children and teens; they learn to indulge themselves and depend upon material things, which can breed into a need for instant gratification, a demanding attitude, intolerance to frustration, and a sense of entitlement. Even Jung (1989, 137) reported that most neurotic individuals were spoiled in childhood. Spoiling can make teens psychologically and emotionally dependent upon the need for pleasure from external objects when they need to learn that the true reward and power rests inwardly—in self-growth, academic success, independence, and so forth. A maxim to follow stands to simply find a healthy balance.

Rites of Passage

Tribal societies provide young people effective rites of passage that incorporate mythologically based ceremonies. Stories or legends explain the origin of humans or highlight heroic deeds. Initiation rites function to radically transform a youth's psychological thought processes from those of a dependent child into those of a conscious and responsible adult by way of a ceremony involving death and resurrection. Boys generally go through an arduous ordeal of circumcision and a hunt where they are to learn courage. At a girl's first menstruation, a ceremony celebrates her entrance into womanhood. Rituals impel males and females to embrace their masculinity and femininity respectively without cultural or emotional ambivalence. Moreover, initiation rites place the boy and girl in congruence with the demands or expectations of the body— the inner instincts of aggression and sexuality. Thus aggression and sexuality transcend into appropriate social roles for the benefit of the community (Campbell in Patillo and Manchi 1988, 1988a, 45–47).

Modern cultures do not use rites of passage on the comprehensive scale that tribal societies did and do. Nor do they incorporate rituals that provide the necessary "psychology jolt" to radically shift the youth's attitude from childhood dependency into adult responsibility and independence. Therefore, we need to create our own rites, as suggested above at age thirteen and at age eighteen (see "Late Adolescence" below). Today, modern rites of passage are used but limited to particular religious groups or social subcultures. Some well-established niche groups of society with rites of passage include the Catholic sacrament of confirmation, the Jewish Bat Mitzvah, and the upper social class debutante ball. Other rites of passage are more general, such as graduation ceremonies from grammar and high school and proms that serve this purpose as farewell celebrations. Ceremonies and symbols function to make young people conscious of the separation and change that occurs so their natural anxieties have an appropriate acknowledgment and release instead of being denied and possibly being acted out with inappropriate behaviors, such as irritability or alcohol usage.

Yet for the past twenty years, a growing social movement has begun to emphasize the necessity of rites of passage for both males and females in our modern age. Organizations offer weekend or weeklong "initiation" programs that combine activities like group discussions and outdoor adventures (camping, hiking, and cooking) and focus on examining and defining one's womanhood or manhood through self-exploration, self-expression, discussion, challenge initiatives, conflict resolution, and cooperative living. The Mankind Project in the state of Washington, which is exclusively for males from high school age through adulthood, has a mentoring program for males age fourteen to seventeen called "Boys to Men." MKP has local chapters throughout the United States and in seven other countries. (For more information on The Mankind Project, visit the organization's website, located at mankindproject.org/.) The organization Rite of Passages Journeys, located in Oregon, is for both girls and boys. The organization has two separate activity groups; one is for girls and boys age ten to twelve, and the other is for teens age fifteen to eighteen. These weekend or weeklong excursions in both organizations generally costs around $700, but financial aid and scholarships are available. (For more information on Rite of Passage Journeys, visit the organization's website located at riteofpassagejourneys.org/.) To determine whether such groups exist in your state, simply do an Internet search to find what's available.

In a similar vein, some psychologists and social workers use this "initiation process" in a modified format in group work. The clinicians guide teens through counseling circles, during which teens discuss their key concerns in life, such as school or home. Through games, the teens undertake challenge initiatives that are symbolic of concepts like working together, trusting yourself, and setting goals. Caregivers can contact their local school social worker or psychologist to find if such counseling circles are available in the school or community.

This brief synopsis about rites aims to provide parents and educators a basic understanding so they can creatively incorporate these ideas and methods into their home-based ceremonies and ongoing discussions about adolescent psychology, as suggested above, beginning at age thirteen to better prepare teens for the psychological challenges of adolescence.

The Trap of Dependency

After having worked with adolescents for twenty-two years, I believe the most pressing issue rests upon this crisis of breaking the chains of psychological and emotional dependency from early adolescents (Jung 1991, 56; Campbell in Patillo and Manchi 1988). Psychological clinicians, such as Jung, Erich Fromm, Albert Ellis, and William Glasser, and professor of comparative religions, Joseph Campbell, all generally refer to neurotics as those who have failed to cross the threshold into responsibility and adulthood; consequently, some youth remain imprisoned in the chains of dependent infantilism into their adult years.

My experience and research compel me to believe that adolescents possess an implicit and innate ability to reach their human potentiality. That is, within each of us resides a dormant human potential—our capacity to love and work creatively. The core problem for many teens consists simply of the struggle to break the dependency on family and the culture at large. In the same vein, drug and alcohol dependency masks difficult emotions like anxiety and fear and thus serves as a means to avoid responsibilities such as school and employment. Writer Colette Dowling (1982, 110) aptly coined the term dependency diseases to describe these behaviors, along with anorexia nervosa. Similarly, smoking and the overuse of psychiatric medications indicate dependencies upon an external substance in order to cope and manage one's emotions, stresses, and frustrations. Psychoanalyst Erich Fromm (1990, 69) maintained, "Mental health is characterized by the ability to love and create, by the emergence from incestuous ties to clan and soil, by a sense of identity based on one's experience of self as the subject and agent of one's powers."

In Fromm's summation, the path toward psychological well-being comes by independence and with the discovery of one's internal capacity to love (in other words, relationships) and create (in other words, work). The enormous problems of teens today, as noted above, mirror as false attempts to establish independence and as disguised forms of dependency. For example, in gangs, frequently the adolescent becomes an emotionally dependent follower of the group in order to avoid the challenge and responsibility of psychological independence. Novelist Richard Wright (1993a, 91) wrote in his autobiography, Black Boy, that, when he joined with his teen friends on the street corner, "We spoke boastfully in bass voices; we used the word 'nigger' to prove the tough fiber of our feelings; we spouted excessive profanity as a sign of our coming manhood; we pretended callousness toward the injunctions of our parents; and we strove to convince one another that our decisions stemmed from ourselves and ourselves alone. Yet we frantically concealed how dependent we were upon one another."

So Wright identified the codependency within his peer group that can obstruct the process of independent thought and action. The research of writer Gustave Le Bon (2002, 2) showed that members of a group lose their individuality and form a collective mind. He named this tendency of crowds to compel individuals to think and feel differently than if they remained by themselves the law of the mental unity. Consequently, each member develops, "a sentiment of invincible power which allows him to yield to instincts which, had he been alone, he would perforce have kept under restraint" (6). This sense of power produces a hypnotic effect—like hypnosis—that can trigger a contagion of aggressive behaviors, such as bullying, gang violence, flash mobs, or even horrific war crimes in the military (7–7). Le Bon (9) emphasized, "The crowd is always intellectually inferior to the isolated individual." Yet groups yield positive effects too with benevolent acts of heroism and charity. Awareness of one's individuality and instincts can tactically counter the negative influence of group culture. If group behavior worsens and begins to violate ethical conduct, one should maneuver to get out and excuse oneself from the group.

Author's Suggestions for Parents and Educators

Capitalize on teachable moments—incidents of group bullying or crime, gang rape, or flash mobs in the media or community—to open discussion with teens on the important subject of independent thought and action. Le Bon's research contains essential information that parents and educators can paraphrase to adolescents. Knowing that their individual perspective and judgment reigns supreme over that of their peer group can provide teens not only increased self-Bruce confidence and independence but, more importantly, a the boost to the inner ego that is necessary for them to take a difficult yet decisive, autonomous stance against peer pressure if need arises.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from The Parents' and Educators' Manual of Teenage "Rebirth" by Bruce G. Bentley Copyright © 2012 by Bruce G. Bentley. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Contents

Acknowledgments....................ix
Preface....................xi
Part 1 The Death of Childhood and the Birth into Adolescence....................1
1. Adolescence: The Rite of Passage....................3
2. King of the Fakers....................29
3. A Bed Wetter's Saga....................41
Part 2 Cougarville School....................49
4. Cougarville School....................53
5. Rafael: A Journey into the Dark Labyrinthine Underworld of Adolescence....................69
6. The "Rebirth" of Charles....................83
7. Kurt and the Internal Monster....................95
8. Marcus and the Invisible Beast....................101
9. The Heroic Journey of Ebenezer Scrooge to Purge the Wounds of Christmas Past....................111
10. The Tragic Losses of Liza and John....................117
Part 3 Internal Revolution....................135
11. Internal Revolution Tactic 1: The Power of the Word—Reading....................137
12. Internal Revolution Tactic 2: A Sacred Place....................143
13. Internal Revolution Tactic 3: Ejection of the False Image Within....................153
14. Internal Revolution Tactic 4: Awareness of the Death Instinct....................165
Part 4 Self-Analysis for an Internal Revolution....................173
15. Self-Analysis 1: Dreams—the Emissary of the Unconscious....................175
16. Self-Analysis 2: Journal Writing....................191
17. Self-Analysis 3: Understanding the Death Instinct....................201
Epilogue....................231
Bibliography....................233
Index....................241
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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2013

    A Kirkus Indie Book Review: The Parents¿ and Educators¿ Manual o

    A Kirkus Indie Book Review: The Parents’ and Educators’ Manual of Teenage “Rebirth”: How to Prepare Teens for Victorious Transitions into Adolescence and Beyond by Bruce G. Bentley


    A long-time 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.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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