You and Your Adolescent: A Parent's Guide for Ages 10-20

You and Your Adolescent: A Parent's Guide for Ages 10-20

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by Laurence Steinberg, Ann Levine, Ann Levine

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With the growing problems of teenage pregnancy, AIDS and violence that adolescents have to face, this updated edition of You and Your Adolescent is an important book for parents.

Laurence Steinberg and Ann Levine reassure and advise parents, helping them understand family communication, the physical and emotional changes of puberty, intellectual and

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With the growing problems of teenage pregnancy, AIDS and violence that adolescents have to face, this updated edition of You and Your Adolescent is an important book for parents.

Laurence Steinberg and Ann Levine reassure and advise parents, helping them understand family communication, the physical and emotional changes of puberty, intellectual and moral growth, peer pressure, sex, drugs, cigarettes, alcohol and other challenges this period brings. They also provide special advice for single parents, working parents and stepparents. Divided into three periods: 10 to 13, 14 to 17 and 18 to 20, You and Your Adolescent is both easy to read and follow.

By taking the mystery out of adolescence, the authors aid parents in making their teenagers development a period of satisfying growth toward adulthood.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Steinberg, a psychologist and an expert on adolescents, and writer Levine have produced a comprehensive guide to parenting children who are between the ages of 10 and 20. After debunking popular myths--e.g., adolescents are inherently difficult, peer pressure is evil, the nuclear family is in a decline--they offer practical information and suggestions. What saves the text from unneeded dogma is a cautionary note to use one's intuition when in doubt. Age-appropriate chapters discuss physical health, psychological development, and socialization skills, and an introductory section cites the components of a "good parent.'' Resources are plentiful--everything from resume guidelines to a drug usage chat to the lowdown on acne and sexually transmitted diseases. An extremely readable text makes the contents readily accessible to teens. Recommended.-- Janice Arenofsky, formerly with Arizona State Lib., Phoenix

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
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5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.01(d)

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Chapter One

What Makes a Good Parent?
Americans have long been divided on the question of how best to rear children. On the one hand were traditional parents, who believed in laying down the law for their offspring. Parents always knew best in these families, and children were expected to do as they were told, no questions asked. The worst thing parents could do was to spoil a child. On the other hand were permissive parents, who believed in allowing their children freedom of expression and action. According to these parents, imposing rules and regulations on children stifled creativity. The worst thing parents could do was to inhibit a child. We now know, from hundreds of studies and decades of research, that neither of these extremes brings out the best in young people.

Authoritative Parents
The most effective parents are loving but also demanding. They are accepting, affectionate, and involved. In Carl Rogers' phrase, they give their child "unconditional positive regard." They enjoy doing things with their child and take pride in her accomplishments. They believe that parents have an obligation to understand their child's needs and feelings, treat the child's interests and problems as meaningful, and show genuine concern. At the same time, they set well-defined limits. They hold their child to high standards, establish clear rules for behavior, and enforce these strictly and consistently. They are democratic in the sense that they solicit the child's opinion on such matters as bedtime hours and family plans. Because they do not consider themselves infallible, they allow their child to voice disagreements and can be persuaded toreconsider. They value curiosity and self-direction, and they want their child to understand the reasons for their demands and restrictions. When the child misbehaves, they make every effort to explain why the behavior was inappropriate. When reasoning fails, however, they do not hesitate to assert their authority. Psychologists call these mothers and fathers authoritative parents.
Authoritative parents do not demand unquestioning obedience from their children; nor do they give their children free rein. Their rules are based on reasoning, and their limits built on love. This is in contrast to "permissive" or "indulgent" parents, who love their children dearly but have difficulty setting limits or imposing rules, and "authoritarian" or "autocratic" parents, who are controlling and in charge, but who discipline their children harshly and without sufficient affection or discussion.

How to Be an Authoritative Parent
Nobody is perfect, not even parents. The best of us have bad days. When parents are under stress, tired, or preoccupied, they often slip into domination ("Just do it because I say so") or permissiveness ("Do whatever you want"). Moreover, some young people are easier to reason with than others. A bad day or a pressured decision will not have a profound effect on a child. What matters is the general pattern, over time.
Authoritative child-rearing takes time and energy, but it's worth the effort. Parents who have always had a good relationship with their child have a head start on good relations with their adolescent. But all is not lost for parents whose style tends to be indulgent, dictatorial, or even neglectful. You can learn to be an authoritative parent, and your adolescent's behavior will improve as a result. If you haven't been authoritative up until now, it is still possible to change. And if you have been authoritative all along, it is possible to do even more of the same thing.

Start with Love and Trust
It is impossible to "spoil" an adolescent with too much love and affection. Even more than younger children, adolescents need to know that you are there for them. Consciously or unconsciously, many teenagers worry about whether their parents will continue to love them when they are no longer little and cute. They demand freedom from parental control, yet fear their parents will abandon them (psychologically if not physically) as they become more grown-up. Parents may inadvertently feed these fears by talking about how adorable the adolescent was as a baby, or how much fun they had when he was a small boy. Adolescents need to be reassured that nothing--neither their growing maturity, their moods, their misbehavior, nor your anger at something they have done--can shake your basic commitment to them. This is what Rogers meant by unconditional positive regard.
There is a difference, though, between showing that you care and that you want to understand and indulging the adolescent's every wish. As long as you maintain your authority, you can't be too loving. How can you remain close?

Spend time together. Parents often misinterpret the adolescent's heightened interest in friends as disinterest in the family. They assume that a 14-year-old couldn't care less about going bowling with Dad, shopping with Mom, or on a family picnic. In fact, studies show that most teenagers would like to spend more, not less, time with their parents than they do now. Time together can mean going to a special event, sharing an activity you both enjoy, getting a job done together, or just spending time at home, with no particular plans. (Watching TV side by side doesn't count.)
It's important that when you spend time with your teenager, you are genuinely interested and involved in what the two of you are doing. Some parents are too "interruptable" when with their adolescent. They might begin a conversation or a game of cards but then become distracted when the phone rings. Your teenager knows when you are just going through the motions or making conversation half-heartedly.

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