Review of "How to Keep Your Teenager Out of Trouble and What to Do If You Can't"
By Neil I. Bernstein Workman Publishing Company, 2001 Review by Shelly Marshall, CSAC on Dec 30th 2002
Both my professional and lay
opinion on child raising/handling experts is normally very austere.
Politically correct aside, it is irresponsible to insinuate that as long as
parents are loving enough, involved enough, and communicate in a prescribed and
often pretentious manner, their offspring will be immune against negative peer
pressure and their own nature. Finally, in How
to Keep Your Teenager Out of Trouble, I can hang my hat on a no-nonsense,
common sense manual of adolescence supervision.
Here is a book that does not blame
the parent for their childs every shortcoming. Here is a book that asks the
parent, and demonstrates how, to
teach morality, empathy and be of service to others. Although the mandatory
section on low self-esteem is included, the author Neil Bernstein, admits that
many factors, other than parental failure, contribute to this. When he speaks
of praising your child, he emphasizes that it must be sincere and deserved. In
addition, the author has an ingenious section on challenging the teens
negative thinking. You will definitely want to read this.
Although a less stern overseer than
I think prudent, Bernstein emphasizes adolescent accountability and points out
that parents are asked to tolerate way too much from their kids. I
wholeheartedly agree. He does say that when certain lines have been crossed,
placing a child outside the home may be the only alternativehe does not
suggest, as many do, that if you parented right the first time you would never
reach this threshold. How refreshing!
The only point I could take exception to is
Bernsteins downplay of placing the troubled adolescent in with other troubled
adolescents. He claims that residency in a teen facility probably wont be a
negative influence. It is much more likely your teenager will benefit from the
lessons of others than pick up bad traits, he writes in the chapter Desperate
Times, Drastic Measures. According to well-documented research, this is
absolutely, empathically, not true. I was disappointed that the author seemed
to want to cushion this information rather then just say it like it isif the
peer influence on the street affects them so they are not fit to live in a
family, than peer influence within these centers will be worse.
Because of the useful nature of
this whole book, Bernsteins one indiscretion can be forgiven. At 518 pages,
this manual addresses almost anything you, as a parent, will encounter. It
delightfully has many side tables that encasple important ideas and questions,
subheadings that are direct and useful, dialogues and concrete suggestions that
any parent can implement, and a dynamite index so that you can locate just what
you are looking for. You will want to keep this as a reference guide after you
have read it. This is the book Dr. Spock would have wanted to write on raising