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Ever since Judith Rich Harriss The Nurture
Assumption came out to challenge the sacred beliefs surrounding
child-rearing, parenting experts have scrambled to put out a definitive
refutation and assure parents that what they do, indeed will produce good kids.
Yes, Your Teen is Crazy by Michael J. Bradley, Ed.D. is no exception.
Book after book extolling parenting skills have hit the shelves for the
umpteenth time stating that if a parent would only begin soon enough,
understand their child deep enough, stay involved, learn to communicate, never
hit, always love the unlovable, and be reasonable in the face of
unreasonableness, then their child/teen/alien pod will eventually reach 21
intact and not incarcerated. Again, this book is no exception.
Where Bradley does give the reader
the exceptional, you will be as amazed at his inventiveness as you will by his
cruelty. This book is well written, engaging the reader with down to earth
anecdotes that any parent can relate to and yet Bradley doles out advice that
wrenches the heart because there is no way to implement it with your self-worth
Part one tells us what any person
with offspring already knows, that teens are crazy. The author repeatedly
asserts that research says this and research shows that, but maddeningly never
bothers to name the actual studies. For parents willing to trust the author
about what research finds, this wont present a problem. For parents wanting
verification about the whys and wherefores, they will be disappointed. You
simply have to take Bradleys word for everything. Notwithstanding, part ones
most usable feature deals with adolescent insanity and distinguishing between
what is normal and what you need to seek help with.
Part two and three, predictably,
take the reader to parental hell where once again you will be lectured, however
poignantly, about how self-sacrificing, self-defacing, omni-present, and
omni-potent you must be to raise a good kid.
In shades of Dr. Laura, Bradley extols setting aside your own needs and
focusing exclusively on your child. He acknowledges you are human while asking
for the inhuman; he acknowledges that what he asks for is impossible and warns
you if you dont do the impossible, your child is lost.
Basically you are told that your adolescent
can abuse you (only exception is physical violence) and that you can take it, must take it, to show him or her how
stable you are, model good behavior, and create a base of love that your kids
can count on. You must also find every opportunity to apologize to your child, even when doing things you believe in and
would do a second time, ostensibly to gain your childs respect.
Your child cant help what he or
she is doing, you are told, and you can. It is difficult to understand
Bradleys argument that allowing your kid to treat you like a dog is going to
help your child in the outside world. I sincerely question his contention that
your adolescent cant help screaming
profanities, hurling insults and threats, and disobeying you at frequent junctionsI
doubt it because teens seldom act that way around their friends and in other
settings. If they can stifle their acting out at the mall, they can stifle it
in the kitchen. Even if standing up
bravely in the face of abuse from your child really did make them respect and
love you (again, something I doubt), what does that teach them about how to
treat the ones they love the most? That if you love someone you dont react to
abuse and/or that its OK to abuse the ones you love? To be fair, Mr. Bradley
does say his advice is counterintuitive. Many readers will come away believing
its counterproductive, too.
Yes, Your Teen Is Crazy
validates what a parent already knows about their brain-challenged teen,
presents new ways to look at and implement seasoned techniques of parenting,
and provides a decent chuckle of recognition now and again. After reading this
book, you will no longer be plagued with guilt that anything you did turned him
or her into a raging, insane, out of control Marilyn Manson groupie. Peers,
genes and developmental brain chemistry do that, but you are not off the hook
for long. You will forever be plagued with guilt that your inability to embrace
the humiliating and downright cruel standards required of you, creates bad
blood between you and your child that is
your fault and your future.
© 2002 Shelly Marshall
Shelly Marshall, BS, CDAC, is a
researcher and specialist in adolescent addiction recovery. A best selling
author of recovery self-help books, Marshal also trains counselors Internationally
and is a representative to the United Nations for a Russian Charity NAN (Not to Alcoholism and Drug Addiction).