I found this article on the National Public Radio Health Page; with the title Why a Teen Who Talks Back may have a Bright Future. It has to do with teaching your teen to talk problems through confidently; researchers found teens who could express themselves confidently had a greater likelihood of turning down offers of illegal drugs or behaviors.
It is interesting to me, too, that the Dutch who had the courage to shelter the Jews during the Holocaust were those who had learned to think independently as teenagers.
If you’re the parent of a teenager, you likely find yourself routinely embroiled in disputes with your child. Those disputes are the symbol of teen developmental separation from parents.
It’s a vital part of growing up, but it can be extraordinarily wearing on parents. Now researchers suggest that those spats can be tamed and, in the process, provide a lifelong benefit to children.
Researchers from the University of Virginia recently published their findings in the journal Child Development. Psychologist Joseph P. Allen headed the study.
Allen says almost all parents and teenagers argue. But it’s the quality of the arguments that makes all the difference.
“We tell parents to think of those arguments not as nuisance but as a critical training ground,” he says. Such arguments, he says, are actually mini life lessons in how to disagree — a necessary skill later on in life with partners, friends and colleagues on the job.
Teens should be rewarded when arguing calmly and persuasively and not when they indulge in yelling, whining, threats or insults, he says.
In Allen’s study, 157 13-year-olds were videotaped describing their biggest disagreement with their parents. The most common arguments were over grades, chores, money and friends. The tape was then played for both parent and teen.
“Parents reacted in a whole variety of ways. Some of them laughed uncomfortably; some rolled their eyes; and a number of them dove right in and said, ‘OK, let’s talk about this,’” he says.
It was the parents who said wanted to talk who were on the right track, says Allen. “We found that what a teen learned in handling these kinds of disagreements with their parents was exactly what they took into their peer world,” with all its pressures to conform to risky behavior like drugs and alcohol.
Allen interviewed the teens again at ages 15 and 16. “The teens who learned to be calm and confident and persuasive with their parents acted the same way when they were with their peers,” he says. They were able to confidently disagree, saying ‘no’ when offered alcohol or drugs. In fact, they were 40 percent more likely to say ‘no’ than kids who didn’t argue with their parents.
For other kids, it was an entirely different story. “They would back down right away,” says Allen, saying they felt it pointless to argue with their parents. This kind of passivity was taken directly into peer groups, where these teens were more likely to acquiesce when offered drugs or alcohol. “These were the teens we worried about,” he says.
Bottom line: Effective arguing acted as something of an inoculation against negative peer pressure. Kids who felt confident to express themselves to their parents also felt confident being honest with their friends.
So, ironically the best thing parents can do is help their teenager argue more effectively. For this, Allen offers one word: listen.
In the study, when parents listened to their kids, their kids listened back. They didn’t necessarily always agree, he says. But if one or the other made a good point, they would acknowledge that point. “They weren’t just trying to fight each other at every step and wear each other down. They were really trying to persuade the other person.”
Acceptable argument might go something like this: ‘How about if my curfew’s a half hour later but I agree that I’ll text you or I’ll agree that I’ll stay in certain places and you’ll know where I’ll be; or how about I prove to you I can handle it for three weeks before we make a final decision about it.”
Again, parents won’t necessarily agree. But “they’ll get across the message that they take their kids point of view seriously and honestly consider what they have to say,” Allen says.
Child psychologist Richard Weissbourd says the findings bolster earlier research that finds that “parents who really respect their kids’ thinking and their kids’ input are much more likely to have kids who end up being independent thinkers and who are able to resist peer groups.”
Weissbourd points to one dramatic study that analyzed parental relationships of Dutch citizens who ended up protecting Jews during World War II. They were parents who encouraged independent thinking, even if it differed from their own.
So the next time your teenager huffs and puffs and starts to argue, you might just step back for a minute, take a breath yourself, and try to listen. It may be one of the best lessons you teach your child.
The Tiger’s Wife was the perfect book to get me from Pensacola to Seattle, and through the Atlanta airport, full of bustle on a Sunday, packed flights, no quiet, no privacy. Thank God for a good, engrossing book, that takes you totally out of where you are to a world where things are not always what they seem.
The book is set in an unnamed country in East Europe which has just come out of a war, and the main character and her best friend are en route across a border which did not exist before the war, on an aid mission to immunize children who were once neighbors, and are now in a different country.
The primary relationship in the book is the bond between a young girl and her grandfather, and the stories he tells her as they walk up to the zoo, the Jungle Book he reads to her as they visit the animals, and the stories she finds for herself as she participates in the post-war rebuilding. It is a fascinating book because what she is writing about is not always what she is really writing about; the stories and legends and experiences are metaphors for another reality and a life lesson.
I don’t want you to think that this is one of the mindless airport books I sometimes tell you about. If it were, I would tell you “this is not great literature; this is an airport read.” Not this book. This book is literature. This book has meaning, and events you will think about and talk over with other readers long after you have finished the book.
In the back of The Tiger’s Wife is an interview in which one of my favorite new authors, Jennifer Egan (A Visit From the Good Squad) interviews Tea Obreht about her writing process, her life, her vision, etc. Fascinating reading, too, and also reader’s guide questions help you see things you might need to see and might otherwise miss.
Amazon.com kept telling me I needed to read this book, so finally, I ordered it and waited a couple months before I was ready. I just finished a major project AND I caught a miserable cold, so what better time?
I loved this book. It had a lot going against it; you know irrational factors like how you feel when you have a cold and your sinuses are all stuffed up and your chest is tight? A Visit From the Goon Squad took me out of my misery. While it appears random, it is tightly plotted, and I loved seeing how different strands intertwined. I also loved the effects of the goon squad (no, I am not going to tell you anything specific) and I loved how technology drove differences in how different generations thought and acted.
The last act takes place in a future where (this makes total sense) there is a high value placed on “pure”, no tattoos, no swearing – it is truly hilarious, the lengths to which we will go to NOT be our parents. Babies have their own hand-helds, which is already happening. My eyes have been opened, watching our own 18 month old grandson working an iPad and iPhone. It’s amazing to me the aps that are created to entertain, divert and teach our little ones.
This is not a straight line book, so there are times I had to go back and read a section again to remind myself where I met this character before, and how he tied into the plot earlier. It is a fascinating creation, this book, and I would love to sit down for coffee with this author, and her outside-the-box kind of thinking.
“I think I need a hamburger,” I said to AdventureMan as we were tucking in to bed. I can’t even remember the last time I had a hamburger, but I think it was in April, 2010, at the Red Robin in Pensacola.
Red Robin . . . YUMMM. One of the best ad campaigns in history, in my mind. Pure repetition, a little humor to re-inforce the memory, all positive. Anywhere you go in America, you can say “Red Robin” and someone will say “Yummm.”
I have a personal relationship with Red Robin. When I was a student at the University of Washington, long, long ago, the Red Robin was very near the university, near enough we could walk, even, and even though it was a bar, they weren’t very strict about carding people, and oh, they had the best burgers. It was pure comfort food. They also had a wonderful deck, so on the rare and beautiful spring days when final exams were coming and we just needed to blow off some steam, the Red Robin was one of the places we headed.
Yep. . . a little stoned.
There were old wood floors, not the shiny kind of good wood floor, but the old fashioned cheap kind, sort of spongy when you walked on them, and usually covered with stuff that had been spilled. No, not exactly your family kind of place, it was a college student kind of place.
It was YUMMMMM. Now, I won’t need another burger until September 2012 or so.
Sadly, as I was looking for some photos of the original Red Robin, I learned that they closed down the original on March 21, 2010. So sad, but I suspect it just didn’t suit the image of the new, family oriented Red Robins, more than 400 of them around the USA. But they still serve a good burger.
I was just checking if there might be anything on TV tonight worth watching, and I got caught watching – in horror and fascination – Rock Pop and Do-Wop, on National Public Television.
Horrified – because these 60′s and 70′s bands are playing to full concert houses full of people who look OLD like my parents – oh wait – they look like me! Horrors! The music still makes me feel like a teenager! All these people in the audience are looking like true believers, singing along with the songs, getting up and dancing, like they can’t resist the music. No dignity! They are acting like teenagers! Horrors! I still know all the words, even to songs I don’t even remember any more, once they play the first few notes, I know all the words!
Hilarious, because these acts have to strain a little to hit all the notes, but most of them have had eye-lifts, and some of them can even still dance. They can still rock the songs, and they are totally wowing the audience. The hair styles – so awful they are almost cool again. It’s just wrong to have OLD people singing these young love songs.
Poison Ivy! One Fine Day! Blue Moon! I Only Have Eyes for You! Step-by-Step! This Magic Moment! Only You! Twilight Time! The Great Pretender! (Holy Smokes!The audience is going crazy!)
The costumes – oh my heavens. I remember when my high school BF was in a band and my father was horrified by his turquoise blue band jacket, and now . . . I can sort of see what he meant. Pretty awful, but oh – what fun. I remember the fights over whether we should be listening to this music, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the bad boys of rock. They all look so innocent a hundred years later.
There is a part of me that is still 12 years old, listening to this music, and there is a part of me watching me watch the program that is horrified at my fascination.
I’ve been catching up with my bible study homework, and one of the questions had to do with ‘when has God’s comfort and compassion brought joy in your life?’ and I had an answer!
It was today!
Our son had been away on a trip; he came home early. We all got to go to church together. We all got to go to breakfast together, and Baby Q was as good as gold in the restaurant. We always figure with four adults, we can trade off if he gets bored or restless, but he is getting better and better at sitting and eating with the rest of us. He is also getting very adventurous in his eating habits; last night eating hot and sour soup, Thai curry, Thai fish, along with some mandarin oranges and lichis.
Today, it was breakfast food. AdventureMan ordered the Vegetable plattter (he got to choose the vegetables) and when it came, three of the four selections were NOT meat-free (he didn’t care).
Baby Q got to eat collard greens, red beans and rice and some of Mom’s omelette:
It is hilarious; Baby Q is feeding himself. He is very fussy; he doesn’t like anything that sticks to his hand, and after one bite, he knows what he likes and what he doesn’t. His Mom says the kids in his class at Baby School are starting to eat with a spoon, so Baby Q will be starting that, too.
We are off to the park to take some photos of Q and his parents. My life is full of comfort and joy. Thanks be to God; Alhamdallah!
“Ummm . . . . I can’t stay up any longer. I have to go to bed now,” AdventureMan says to me, bleary-eyed. It’s 8:15 PM.
I’m still slowly going through mail that came while we were gone. I went through quickly the first day, checking for any bills that needed to be paid right away, and the rest I’m going through when I can.
We are not exactly not jet lagging. We are sleeping through the night, which is a really good thing, but we still hit slumps at odd times during the day. I am waking up early, but I don’t mind. This morning was a huge full moon, so I went out and walked a mile; it doesn’t even take 20 minutes, and I am savoring this spring weather. In the summer, it is hot – for me – even at 5 in the morning, even when that is the coolest it is going to be all day, it is still hot for me in the summer. I relish my walks at this time of year, relish the coolness.
We spent yesterday taking care of the Happy Baby, who was a little less happy than normal. Well, happy enough, he is such a good baby, but suffering the after-effects of the one year vaccinations, fever, lethargy, just not his normal self. We were delighted not to have anything else on our calendar, and at the same time, we were exhausted by the end of the day. My heart goes out to grandparents who are raising their children’s children . . . we just don’t have that energy anymore; it takes two of us to keep up with a very mobile one-year-old. No wonder God gives babies to young people!
Today, a beautiful spring day when the high will be around 72°, I think I will start cleaning out the garden in back. Last year, I had to completely cut it back, but when it started growing, it was lush and glorious. I’ll just pull out the dead growth this year, trim where it might need trimming, and look for a new honeysuckle vine to plant along my back fence. I love the smell of honeysuckle. I might also plant a jasmine plant, see how it does, have a great smelling back yard.
This book had everything going for it, and still I had a hard time getting into it. The book was given by Little Diamond to my Mom – Little Diamond often passes along the very best, thought-provoking books, and in our family we pass the best along, so I knew it would be good. I love the title. The book is set in a part of Seattle now called – euphemistically – The International District, but as I was growing up, and among older Seattle-ites, it is called Chinatown, even though that is not politically correct, or geographically correct. Chinatown was never Chinatown, it was a group of distinct populations – Chinese, Japanese, later Vietnamese, Korean, even later Ethiopian, Sudanese, Somali, Pakistan . . . you could call it immigrant-ville, I suppose, if you were really, really politically incorrect. My Chinese friends still call it Chinatown.
Last, but not least, Jamie Ford started this book as a short story at a camp run by Orson Scott Card, one of my favorite authors, especially to recommend to young people. Orson Scott Card knows how to capture the painful contradictions of being teens and young adults, the conflicts with parents, the loves, requited and un, and most of all, he understands how the young see things clearly as unfair; it’s only later when we start seeing shades of grey.
In spite of all those positives, I hated his voice. I hated the smug little Chinese boy he started as, a scholarship student, first generation born in the US, mocking his parents, fighting off bullies. . . Here is what I hated the most. He had a girlfriend, and he didn’t understand chivalry, like walking her home. He protected her, but he was a pretty self-absorbed little boy.
I kept reading because he had some interesting friends. I liked his friend the jazz player, and I liked the gruff lunchroom lady, and I liked his friend Keiko. I understood his parents pushing him to excel, and their not understanding the struggles this caused Henry; I liked his parents. Because the book jumps around in time, I also liked his wife, and felt annoyed that Henry was all caught up in this old romance when he had a perfectly good wife, but I kept reading.
I am so glad I did. About a third into the book, we begin to see Henry transform into the man he will become. He gets help, he gets mentoring from unexpected people, and he becomes more likable.
The book also deals with a terrible time in US history, a time when we turned on our own citizens and sent our citizens of Japanese descent to concentration camps right here in the USA. The Japanese were a class act; most of them were hurt and outraged, but compliant. Many men volunteered to fight in the war in spite of this slap in the face, this accusation of potential treason. It is a shameful time in our own history, and particularly so for Henry, who loves a Japanese girl, Keiko.
By the end, I loved this book. I hope you will, too.