Book Review

Brian Sabourin
Adolescent Literature
Adolescent Psychology Book Review

Book Title: Adolescence – The Survival Guide for Parents And Teenagers
Authors: Elizabeth Fenwick and Dr. Tony Smith
Date Published: 1996
Publisher: DK Publishing, Inc.

This book is exactly what it says it is – a Guidebook or Manual for both parents and teens that offers insight and advice on a wide range of adolescent developmental concerns. Organized into convenient topical sections for both parent and teen readers, the text can be easily consulted when seeking advice on a particular issue, or simply read cover to cover. Either way, the reader will find a wealth of practical advice for both parent and teen.
The authors approach their subject in a sympathetic and sensitive manner in an effort to ameliorate typical parent/teen confrontations. Sections intended for teen readers are highlighted in blue and written in a conversational style where the author is talking to the teen reader. Numerous quotes from other teens are interspersed within these sections to give the material a very user-friendly feel. Parents will find these sections very useful in that they provide a supportive and understanding perspective. They give teens a chance to step into the shoes of their parents and ponder their situation within a wide range of potential parental concerns.
The primary content of the book is intended for parents and goes into more depth than a typical teen section. Illustrated with easy to follow graphic organizers, the section intended for parents is packed with numerous case histories, tables and charts, questionnaires, dialogues, and issues common to families with teenagers. Of particular importance are the case histories, dialogue, and issue boxes.
The case histories are taken from real-life situations and present both problem and solution for a wide range of situations. These stories present the point of view of both parent and teen, which the reader can compare and contrast to his or her own situation. They also provide insight into the probable cause of the conflict as well as explaining how the problem was actually resolved.
The issues sections present problems that parents and teens tend to argue about. Issues such as style of dress and friendships are written is such a way as to provide a helpful “middle ground” position for parents to take while struggling with a recalcitrant teen.
The dialogue boxes present scenarios common to families dealing with teenagers. In addition to presenting a typical parent/teen conversation (such as playing music too loud or talks about drugs) these sections offer insight on how to discuss certain issues with your teens. Having such models to follow can be very helpful to a parent or teacher searching for the right words or ways in which to approach a controversial subject. In addition to the dialogue, the authors have also included advice at the end of dialogue sections that suggest several ways in which the stated problem might be reconciled.
The numerous tables found throughout the text provide convenient, up-to-date data on a wide variety of issues. Parents and teachers alike can make good use of these tables, in particular, the section in the first chapter dealing with physical development. Entitled “Milestones of Early (ages 11 to 14), Middle (ages 15 to 16), and Late Adolescence (ages 17 to 18)”, this section presents various developmental milestones in the context of the consequence for the child as well as the potential effect on the family.
Of all the issues and concerns expressed in this book, the only section which parents may find objectionable concerns chapter eleven – sexuality in adolescence. The authors seemingly approach this subject with a no-holds-barred policy. They discuss all possible sexual issues, from the more innocuous dating and foreplay concerns to controversial issues such as homosexuality, masturbation and pre-marital sex. Parents with strong religious convictions may take issue with a number of the authors’ perspectives and recommendations. For instance, concerning the issue of early sexual experimentation the authors say:
“…in itself early…sexual experience is not necessarily either abnormal or deviant… early sexual behavior – although it may shock or disappoint you – should not be regarded as a major catastrophe.” Pg. 127

Concerning homosexuality the authors say:

“…you have no choice but to accept that this (homosexuality) is the way things are. They cannot help being gay and they cannot change – even if they want to.”