Tuesday, October 23, 2007

When Your Teen is Struggling

Time Magazine's cover article this week discusses birth order and how much it effects not only personality but IQ, schooling, and earning potential. This article is interesting and has lots of data to back it up, but there are so many families that it doesn't address, it makes the conclusions seem outdated. As an only child, I looked in vain to find detail about singletons, but they weren't mentioned even once. Where do we fit in? Isn't a good sized portion of the population being ignored by these statistics? According to the Hoover Digest, by 2000, women were having 1.8 children, which means that obviously there are a lot of us out there. I found an interesting article while looking up statistics for this entry on the University of Texas website refuting birth order theory with several quotes about how sad the fate of only children is. No social skills, narcissistic, useless in life, etc. Tell that to Alan Greenspan, Rudy Guiliani, and Franklin Roosevelt! Another demographic is completely ignored in the Time article: blended families. With 2/3 of marriages ending in divorce and many children living in blended families, how does birth order effect that? I have two teenagers from my first marriage and a 4 year-old from my second marriage. There's a ten year gap between my two youngest, so is my middle child more like a youngest or a middle? Guess what: she's my overachiever who acts like a firstborn and doesn't fit into either stereotype. How about families that have large gaps between children? There are 22 years between my younger brother and I. We've both been raised like onlies (especially me), but he does have me as an older sister. So, is he more of an only or a youngest? My father's family 55 years ago was also an exception to the rule. His brother was nineteen years older, and his sister is twelve years only. In Jesse's family, the middle child Eric fits the attributes of the eldest, Jesse, the baby, acts more like a middle child, and Dave, the eldest, is most like the youngest. As sad as it is, the nuclear family really doesn't exist anymore, and that makes this whole survey suspect because it fails to address the current state of the family.

When Your Teen is Struggling by Mark Gregston is an excellent resource for all parents of teens whether they are struggling or not. As any mother of two teens, I seem to always be struggling with one of them (at least they take turns), but I'm blessed in that neither of them is truly in trouble. We argue about grades, getting up in the morning, text messages, etc. Gregston, who has devoted his life to working with teens, is an expert on dealing with teens and their parents, who can be just as much work. He doesn't pull any punches, but he writes with a simple, clear form that really gets to the heart of the matter. He addresses different crises teens face and how we as parents can help them. The book is full of case studies of teens Mark has worked with (and he includes the outcomes in the back), each one is heartbreaking and gives insight into how to communicate with teens. I didn't realize how much I was robbing my children of the opportunity to be responsible until reading this, and I'm working on changing my habits. He encourages parents to discuss rather than lecture teens for more open communication and trust. His advice is solid; even though neither of my kids is going through the kind of difficulties the book deals with, I enjoyed the read and found lots of advice I can and will incorporate into my parenting.

USA Today has a Candidate Match Game on their site with ten questions about current issues to help you figure out which presidential candidate best fits you. First of all, let me say that I don't care for any of the candidates in the race. There is no one that I feel I can solidly stand behind. That said, my results were Mitt Romney, Tom Tancredo, and Mike Huckabee. HT to my brother-in-law Eric for providing the link to the site.


Anonymous said...

You have mentioned right. Struggling teens need extra help and care. Most of the parents fail to understand their teenagers problems. Find and provding right help to struggling teenagers is important for parents personal growth and comfort.