How We Like Our Teenagers: Coltish and Unruly

Despite our communal anxiety about keeping adolescents in check, our culture still seems to like its teenagers a little coltish and unruly. You see this in parents’ bemused tolerance for their kids’ antics, and in the charity afforded them when rude or irresponsible; “typical teenage behavior” it’s called, which is unfortunate. Teenagers can do better, and they know it, but why wouldn’t they capitalize, en masse, on this romanticized vision of adolescence? This way, moms and dads start second-guessing themselves left and right, leaving all kinds of room for their kids to take advantage of the parents’ anxiety over scholastic achievement, their desire to avoid conflict, and their wish to see their children be happy and successful. This is why it’s so easy for them to get their parents to shoulder the responsibility for everything from making sure assignments are in on time to making sure there are clean socks in the morning for their 17-year-old’s job interview.

— Janet Sasson Edgette. Excerpt, The Last Boys Picked: Helping Boys Who Don’t Like Sports Survive Bullies and Boyhood

 

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