Working with teens
Sachs reminds us that when we go from raising children to teens that "consistency has to be cantilevered with creativity or we quickly lose what leverage we have."
I couldn't agree more.
Teens drink for many reasons. If you suspect he is depressed, have a talk with his doctor over the phone and take your son along to see him in private. He may suggest for your son to go and see a counsellor. If you need help in looking for clues on stress or depression, read THE GOOD ENOUGH TEEN by Dr. Brad Sachs (HarperCollins).
"The fantasy teen is the adolescent of our wildest imaginings," says Dr. Brad Sachs, a family psychologist. "The one who gratifies our most cherished wishes, who fulfills our most dearly held dreams, who effortlessly meets all of our expectations, who makes us feel warm and whole, soulful and complete."
Sachs, the father of three adolescents, is the author of THE GOOD ENOUGH TEEN (HarperCollins) with the secondary title, "Raising Adolescents with Love and Acceptance Despite How Impossible They Can Be." His book puts into words what every involved parent has secretly thought:
"After years of scraping together money to support their interests and pursuits; making meals and doing laundry and scheduling medical appointments; volunteering for teachers and PTA's and fund-raisers; driving them to friends' houses and practices and rehearsals and libraries; sitting in parking lots, waiting rooms, auditoriums and athletic fields--mothers and fathers naturally want to be rewarded."
Parents have their own egos at risk, Sachs says.
"The possibility that all of our efforts could produce mediocrity becomes more than we cn bear and makes it difficult to be charitable ehn we have to come to terms with our teen's rough, irrgeular growth."
SATs loom and tension builds in homes of college-bound teens. Parents' dreams for their children are on the line. Not that the teens should feel pressure or anything.
In "The Good Enough Teen" (Perennial Currents, $14.95), psychologist Brad Sachs explores how families can mend themselves when teens thwart parental aspirations, whether through low SAT scores, perennial sullenness or the less-benign problems of violent behavior and drug abuse.
Sachs advises adults to first examine their own childhoods for answers to parenting issues. He also steers clear of a blanket condemnation of teenage angst, saying that everyone from parents to grandparents can play a role in a teen's unhappiness.
The book's hands-on exercises and intriguing case histories guide parents on how to change behavior--both theirs and their children's. Because Sachs makes it clear that finding the point where you can love your teen for who she is--perhaps a child destined for, egads, an in-state college--often involves instilling forgiveness, acceptance and love in yourself.
On change: "Only when we dare to embrace [adolescents] as they are will they move beyond our embrace and become all that they are meant to be."
Sometimes parents wonder if their teen-ager is the same person as the sweet little baby they brought home from the hospital about 13 years ago.
Yes, assures Brad Sachs in this excellent primer for parents, but that child is doing the hard work of becoming an adult. Give him or her a little slack, Sachs urges -- not a dangerous type of slack, but the respectful, mentoring kind. The book title echoes that of acclaimed child-development expert Bruno Bettelheim, whose The Good Enough Parent reminded parents that they don't have to be perfect -- just good enough to raise a child to successful adulthood.
Sachs' advice helps parents back away from an authoritarian, "because I'm your father" approach to one that recognizes the needs and goals of kids and parents. He mixes layperson-friendly psychology with practical tips, such as these discussion questions for re-focusing on solutions rather than problems:
* What is the problem the teen is trying to solve?
* Is the current solution working to the advantage or disadvantage of the teen and the family?
* Is there a solution that could be substituted for the current one that would solve the same problem but work more advantageously for everyone?
* If so, how can we create or enhance the likelihood that the teen would consider implementing it?
Cleveland Plain Dealer Arts & Life
January 19, 2005
by Pam Lilley
Guide pieces together breaking medical news
FROM THE SELF-HELP SHELF
Do yourself a favor. Subtract $13.95 from the amount that you intend to put in your 12-year-old’s college savings account this year and apply it instead to this book.
You’ll open it again and again: when your 13-year-old wants to quit piano lessons to play soccer instead; when your very responsible, high-achieving 16-year-old seems unable to put pen to paper when it comes time to fill out college applications; and when your marriage seems to crumble just as the youngest gets settled into his dorm room.
The goal of raising teens, Sachs writes, “is not perfection but simply trying to be present to our imperfect selves at the same time as we remain present to our imperfect children.”
Sachs, a family psychologist, offers a unique perspective on adolescent psychology and development by looking at the dynamics of the whole family, not just the teen. Behaviors of most concern to parents, such as drug use, sex, academic performance and self-mutilation, cannot be resolved only by demanding changes from the child.
In the client studies Sachs uses as examples, parents are forced to explore their own motivations, expectations and behaviors. He sides neither with the child nor the parents, but with the family.
His recommendations are not about finding the correct answer, but finding a reasonable and amicable resolution. Not perfect, mind you, but good enough.
Just when you think you've got the hang of child rearing, your kids morph into teenagers. "The biggest mistake parents make," according to Brad Sachs, Ph.D, author of THE GOOD ENOUGH TEEN: HOW TO RAISE ADOLESCENTS WITH LOVE AND ACCEPTANCE (DESPITE HOW IMPOSSIBLE THEY CAN BE), "is clinging to the status quo. Adolescence is a time of change for the whole family."
Here's how to be a good-enough parent:
Explain the rules. Teens deserve more than "Because I say so." Tell them the reasons you expect certain behavior and the consequences of noncompliance. Having limits is reassuring to kids and it helps them to learn how to set boundaries wiht friends.
Don't rescue them. It's important for teens to understand consequences. If he gets caught speeding, let him figure out how to pay the ticket.
Respond at your own pace. Everything may feel like an emergency to your teen, but you don't have to react with that same sense of urgency.
Hear your child out, say what you need to say, and then disengage. Arguing diminishes your authority.
Respect their boundaries, but know the difference between privacy and secrecy.
Get a life. Letting go is hard, but your job is show you trust their capacity to make decisions by gradually relinquishing the reins.