This article was first published as “Teen missteps pave way for success, ‘Blessing’ author says” in JWeekly.
Dr. Wendy Mogel
In the prevailing pressure-cooker society, in which parents and educators are creating enormous stress in adolescents by pushing them to succeed socially and academically, Dr. Wendy Mogel proudly belongs to the counterculture. She endorses the idea of kids letting off a little steam, goofing off and getting into some trouble.
“I really want teenagers to screw up,” Mogel declared. “They have to do dopey stuff in order to grow up. It’s far better that they have the chance to mess up while they are under parental supervision than when they are away from home and on their own.”
She advocates for all kinds of teenage misbehavior —including rudeness to parents, procrastination and laziness, self-centeredness and rule breaking, and even limited experimentation with alcohol and physical intimacy.
“It’s not easy to convert your teens’ struggles into blessings. It requires both insight and cour-age,” Mogel writes in the first chapter of her new book, “The Blessing of a
B Minus: Using Jewish Teachings to Raise Resilient Teenagers.” She goes on to liken the adolescent journey to that of the Israelites’ 40-year sojourn through the Sinai desert, enduring a prolonged period of “grumbling” and mistakes.
Mogel is concerned that so many college freshmen are ill-equipped to be independent. She spoke of the many still joined to their parents by “the electronic tether,” citing a study that freshmen text, e-mail or phone home 14.5 times a day on average. Others check out assigned roommates on Facebook before arriving on campus and request a switch. Some even come home for Thanksgiving visits and are unable or unwilling to return to school.
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© 2010 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.