THE BLESSINGS OF A ‘B MINUS’ — “Living graciously with chronically rude teenagers.”

October 11, 2010

The Blessings of a B Minus

by Wendy Mogel, Ph.D.

Scribner Publishing

$24, 194 pages

A book with the year’s best title just happens to be the best book on parenting teens. It purports to use Jewish teachings to raise resilient teenagers, but whether or not that is the source of this life-saving wisdom, as a parent of former teenagers (they are now in their forties), I can’t praise this books message enough. In fact, instead of nitpicking, let me give you some of its invaluable conclusions:

  1. Bizarre teen behavior, so annoyingly not in line with your dreams and plans, is a sign that your teen’s unique personality is unfolding.
  2. Teenaged rudeness is a paradox. It lets you know that your teen is trying desperately to separate from you and that your are the “safe” person who can receive their frustration with not yet being all grown up.
  3. One of the ways teens learn about the importance of hard work is by suffering the consequences of their procrastination and laziness.
  4. Materialism and self-centeredness are normal during this period of rapid and shifting identity. Just as a pregnant woman focuses inward, adolescents are preoccupied as they give birth to themselves.
  5. When teens break the rules, or even the law, it is often because they aren’t satisfied with a merely rote knowledge of our ethical system.  They want to know if adults mean what they say.
  6. Teens getting into hot water provides an excellent opportunity for learning self-reliance: how to solve problems and how to mine difficult circumstances for their benefits.
  7. Staying up late is sometimes a teen’s shot at independence, and goofing around is a way to ease the stresses of growing up.
  8. Finally, limited experimentation with alcohol, physical intimacy, and even drugs teaches teens how to regulate these powerful experiences and keep themselves safe while they are still under your guidance.

“In other words,” as the author says in an interview, “teens have to do a lot of dumb stuff in order to get smart.”

– John Lehman

To buy this book directly from amazon ($16.20) click: The Blessing of a B Minus: Using Jewish Teachings to Raise Resilient Teenagers


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