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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, […]

Teenager Not Motivated For School?

  A colleague wrote me asking for my ideas about how to work in therapy with adolescents who have turned off to school:     “… Homework is one issue that continues to be a dilemma. As you know, there is the parental expectation that their kids do well in school … get good grades, […]

Five Reasons Why Your Teenager Won’t Take Your Advice

Ever wonder why your teen takes a pass on your advice? Especially when you know “for a fact” that it’s really good? Here are five reasons why teenagers might look elsewhere for solutions or support, or nowhere at all. It can explain those times when they stick with a bad decision even though they know […]

Closing Down the School of Hard Knocks

Sure, the kid is tough and “can take it.” But should he have to? “He’s tough, he’s a boy. He can take it,” says a father about his six-year-old son, who just got knocked flat on his face by an older brother testing out his brand-new bike. Sure he can take it. What choice does he have? […]

Raising Boys to Be Good Sports:  Family Game Night and the Art of Interruption

This is the last in a series of six articles about raising boys to be good sports. I wouldn’t consider this series on good sportsmanship to be complete without saying at least a few words about family game nights—those hotbeds of rivalry disguised as interludes of filial togetherness. The problem of course isn’t in being competitive; […]

Fail Is Not a Four-Letter Word

How misguided compassion can end up being a child’s worst enemy in terms of healthy social and emotional development Nine-year-old Billy had been a brash schoolyard basketball player when I first met him. Now, a year later, he sat in my office sad and forlorn, next to his worried dad. “He won’t play basketball or […]

Raising Boys to Be Good Sports: Bad sportsmanship doesn’t self-correct

  This is the fourth in a series of six articles about raising boys to be good sports.   Here’s the bad news: Bad sportsmanship isn’t “just a phase” and it’s not something a kid is going to magically grow out of. Here’s the good news: There are things you can do to encourage better sportsmanship […]

boy playing with friend's head in sand

Boy Behavior or Bad Behavior? The Dangers of Romanticizing Masculinity

By mistaking unchecked behavior for undeveloped behavior, we allow unacceptable behavior in boys and men to be seen as just another part of “being a guy.”      Years ago I knew a mother who had eight kids, the last six of whom were boys. The brothers were energetic, scrappy kids who were polite and […]

Getting Your Teenager to Talk -­ Part II

  Actually, it’s not about “getting” your teen to talk. That’s been part of the problem all along – kids feeling tugged at and interrogated and cajoled into conversations that don’t interest them. I stuck that phrase in the title because, if nothing else, it captures the urgency behind so many parents’ attempts to learn […]