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Dr. Robert Epstein on adolescence

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
http://minnesota.publicradio.org/dis...13/midmorning1

Here's the blurb:
Quote:
For years, teenage impulsiveness and immature behavior was attributed to hormones. More recently, scientists have suggested the teenage brain is the problem. One psychologist says that theory is all wrong, and believes teenagers are capable of being far more mature and productive than we think.
He also says some interesting stuff about the state of institutionalized education in the US and how it needs to and is changing...
post #2 of 21
Thanks-I'll look forward to listening.
post #3 of 21
Fascinating! Thanks for posting. I'm listening to it now.

Google "Myth of the Teen Brain" and his pdf comes up. I haven't had time to read it yet.

And also http://www.psychologytoday.com/artic...trashing-teens
post #4 of 21
Absolutely fascinating what he's saying about the link between the industrialization of the US and public education, getting the masses of immigrant children off the streets and into classrooms to teach them how to be Americans. And how that really isn't necessary or working anymore.

And so he's mentioning the apprenticeship system that virtually disappeared with industrialization, and what a loss it is.

But it occurs to me that what do we in the US and the Western world have over the rest of the world that does not have this public school system? We have educated girls that grow up to be liberated women! I think we can give partial credit to the public education system for that.

He seems to be advocating starting adulthood earlier than we do now and I get what he's saying. But seriously, I think the quality of life for females went up exponentially when we allowed them to remain 'childlike', staying in school through their teen years, rather than start having babies as soon as possible.

I don't think he'd deny that, though.

I love this woman interviewing him. She's keeping him on track!

He mentions www.howadultareyou.com
post #5 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by journeymom View Post
But it occurs to me that what do we in the US and the Western world have over the rest of the world that does not have this public school system? We have educated girls that grow up to be liberated women! I think we can give partial credit to the public education system for that.
I think we have abundance to thank for that, to an even greater extent than education.

Quote:
He seems to be advocating starting adulthood earlier than we do now and I get what he's saying. But seriously, I think the quality of life for females went up exponentially when we allowed them to remain 'childlike', staying in school through their teen years, rather than start having babies as soon as possible.
I think there's a huge space between starting adulthood earlier and having babies earlier. (Personally, I wish I'd started having babies younger than I did, and I know many women who feel the same way.) But, if a woman wants to have babies at 24 or 25, that still gives them several years of living as an adult, even under the current set-up. If teens were treated as adults at a younger age, that would apply even more so. If a girl became a legal adult at 16, for example, she'd have 5 years of legal adulthood behind her, even if she became a mom at "only" 21.
post #6 of 21
I got to listen to half of it, before the wind knocked the power out and the modem with it. Ugh, I'll listen to the whole thing later.

What I have from it so far is that he's pretty much been saying what I have been trying to tell people for so freakin' long! Teenagers are not kids and shouldn't be treated like kids. The idea of "keeping them children" is not natural and I don't think it's appropriate either.

Quote:
Originally Posted by journeymom View Post
He seems to be advocating starting adulthood earlier than we do now and I get what he's saying. But seriously, I think the quality of life for females went up exponentially when we allowed them to remain 'childlike', staying in school through their teen years, rather than start having babies as soon as possible.
I think Storm Bride touched on a good point, being an adult doesn't mean having kids. Plenty of people in the western world don't start having kids as soon as they are considered adults, many people even choose not to have kids.

The other point, we aren't supposed to be "childlike" for so long. In fact, I believe that teens (even [especially?] females) are more often forced to be childlike beyond when they are naturally developing beyond that. What makes it worse, is we keep pushing adulthood back. 16... then 18... now people want kids to be kids until they are 21, or even 25... This is neither developmentally normal or appropriate.
post #7 of 21
You're right, and I agree with a lot of what he said.
post #8 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by journeymom View Post
But it occurs to me that what do we in the US and the Western world have over the rest of the world that does not have this public school system? We have educated girls that grow up to be liberated women!
I'm with you. There is also such a strong link between level of education and lifelong earnings (as well as satisfaction at work) that I WANT my kids in school in the teen years. What people can do in other cultures where education isn't linked to success is just different. We aren't hunter gathers, so I'd prefer my kids prepare for university!

We were relaxed homeschoolers for years, and now my 11 and 13 year old are in school. We are the opposite of what he suggests. School is the RIGHT place for teens in my thinking.

Quote:
I think the quality of life for females went up exponentially when we allowed them to remain 'childlike', staying in school through their teen years, rather than start having babies as soon as possible.
Agreed. He wants teens to have full property rights, be able to get married, etc. He wants teens to have the whole adult package, including parenthood. That's just not what I want for my daughters, at least not for another decade. I feel the rest of their lives will be better if they postpone parts of adulthood to build a better foundation for themselves.

From the article linked:
Quote:
the current systems are so entrenched that parents can do little to counter infantilization.
I don't feel that I infatilize my daughters. They have appropriate rights and responsbility for their development. On one hand, I agree that too many parents continue to treat their teens like children rather than teens. Many parents of middle schoolers are still going through their backpacks and doing their laundry. They aren't expecting any more from their kids than they did when they kids were 5.

On the other hand, a real dialogue about how parents can best support their offspring transitioning from childhood to adulthood isn't what this guy is offering.
post #9 of 21
Thread Starter 
I don't think level of education is synonymous with years of participation in the traditional education system. He mentioned some alternatives, like homeschooling... but I really think that the community college system is a much better model for many teenagers. It's almost expected that teenage homeschoolers will make their way there at some point, and they generally thrive... even though they're required to be much more "adult-like" than are students in traditional schools, IMO.
post #10 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by MusicianDad View Post
The other point, we aren't supposed to be "childlike" for so long. In fact, I believe that teens (even [especially?] females) are more often forced to be childlike beyond when they are naturally developing beyond that. What makes it worse, is we keep pushing adulthood back. 16... then 18... now people want kids to be kids until they are 21, or even 25... This is neither developmentally normal or appropriate.
I think part of the problem here is that society is trying to separate rights and responsibilities in a very artificial way. People don't want "children" (of 21!!) to have adult rights until they demonstrate that they're responsible enough. But, that's not going to work, because we effectively train those people to think of themselves as children on so many levels. They're not allowed to be adults, so they're not doing the right kind of trial and error living to learn how to be adults. An extended childhood really doesn't prepare someone for being an adult.
post #11 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post
I'm with you. There is also such a strong link between level of education and lifelong earnings (as well as satisfaction at work) that I WANT my kids in school in the teen years. What people can do in other cultures where education isn't linked to success is just different. We aren't hunter gathers, so I'd prefer my kids prepare for university!

We were relaxed homeschoolers for years, and now my 11 and 13 year old are in school. We are the opposite of what he suggests. School is the RIGHT place for teens in my thinking.



Agreed. He wants teens to have full property rights, be able to get married, etc. He wants teens to have the whole adult package, including parenthood. That's just not what I want for my daughters, at least not for another decade. I feel the rest of their lives will be better if they postpone parts of adulthood to build a better foundation for themselves.

From the article linked:


I don't feel that I infatilize my daughters. They have appropriate rights and responsbility for their development. On one hand, I agree that too many parents continue to treat their teens like children rather than teens. Many parents of middle schoolers are still going through their backpacks and doing their laundry. They aren't expecting any more from their kids than they did when they kids were 5.

On the other hand, a real dialogue about how parents can best support their offspring transitioning from childhood to adulthood isn't what this guy is offering.
Why does "adult" = "no school"? And plenty of teens in this day and age make the choice to stop attending school and get jobs. I don't believe school is the right place for every teen out there. No every one goes to university... And you know, not everyone wants or needs to make a 6 figure income either.

He wants teens to be treated more like adults... They are all ready having kids, moving out and getting married. But even if you have done all of the above, society still calls you a child. What's wrong with, instead of stigmatizing the 17 year old with a spouse and a kid, treating them like the adult they are?

It's not just a large number of parents who treat teens like children. Society does it too. The general enivronment for teens in the western world is that they are incapable of doing anything right.
post #12 of 21
...and yet the compulsory education age is being raised to 18 in many states. And driving privileges made contingent on being enrolled in school.

I'd like to see this debate get fired up nationally as it makes me tired to listen to people get all fired up about trying 16 year olds as adults for violent crimes, but not allowing them to make important decisions for themselves.
post #13 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by MusicianDad View Post
What's wrong with, instead of stigmatizing the 17 year old with a spouse and a kid, treating them like the adult they are?
When someone has a child, they are legally an adult regardless of their age because they are "otherwise emancipated."

He talks about wanting to go back in time, but teens who get pregnant are treated far better now they they were in the past -- when they would be hidden away until they delivered and then their baby taken away OR forced into marriage. On this issue, teens do have more rights about their choices than they've had in any other point in time.

I don't think "adult" equals no school, but this guy is very anti-school. Most of what he says doesn't jive with what I see around me. I see teens doing a variety of things and learning in a variety of settings. Homeschooling, private schools, alternative schools etc. are the common place (and very legal!). What he says we should have, we already do have.

None of this jives with what I see around me. Not with my kids, and not with other kids I know.
post #14 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dar View Post
I don't think level of education is synonymous with years of participation in the traditional education system. He mentioned some alternatives, like homeschooling... but I really think that the community college system is a much better model for many teenagers. It's almost expected that teenage homeschoolers will make their way there at some point, and they generally thrive... even though they're required to be much more "adult-like" than are students in traditional schools, IMO.
Yes, and others go into trade school. I know a couple of homeschooled students who went directly into trade school and or employment (via a job that was like an aprenticeship) very successfully. They are some of the most mature and competent young adults I've met.

One of them is our farrier, and she is very well respected in the community. Although she's still young she is very skilled and successful at her business.
post #15 of 21
He made a good point when he said that in the whole rest of the world teens don't have these same depression, adhd and general ennui problems endemic to western teens.

But the psychologist who called and challenged him right after that also had a great point; our teens also don't have the same problems that teens do in other parts of the world: (my examples, because I can't remember what the caller mentioned) slave labor, sex slavery, child soldiers (with the attendant drug addiction), sexual mutilation, child brides, etc.

So perhaps we don't have to throw out the whole western way of doing things. It's not either/or.

That single mom who called in I think had it right on. When she became single, by necessity, her daughter simply had to step up and take more responsibility. She just had to come along. Mom had to make a living, there wasn't another adult to make it possible for her daughter to take it easy. And this mom concluded that her daughter seriously benefited from this situation. Her daughter has a good work ethic and sense of responsibility, she says.

I really admire that.

My husband would say that he benefited from having to pay his own way when he was a teen. His parents were very poor and if he wanted anything he had to get it himself. He got a paper-delivery job when he was 12, and that was it, he hasn't stopped working since. He bought his own clothes, he bought his own car, he paid his own way through college.

My parents diligently saved money for all four of us kids to go to college, though we all had to help out. Dh wonders about that. We do have educational accounts for both our kids (though they've taken a severe beating in past year! ) and I'm glad we do.

I'm still thinking about this...

Off to look up farrier. ...Someone who shoes horses?
post #16 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post
When someone has a child, they are legally an adult regardless of their age because they are "otherwise emancipated."

He talks about wanting to go back in time, but teens who get pregnant are treated far better now they they were in the past -- when they would be hidden away until they delivered and then their baby taken away OR forced into marriage. On this issue, teens do have more rights about their choices than they've had in any other point in time.

I don't think "adult" equals no school, but this guy is very anti-school. Most of what he says doesn't jive with what I see around me. I see teens doing a variety of things and learning in a variety of settings. Homeschooling, private schools, alternative schools etc. are the common place (and very legal!). What he says we should have, we already do have.

None of this jives with what I see around me. Not with my kids, and not with other kids I know.
Legally emancipated and being treated like an adult by society are two entirely different things. Most teenaged parents get the lovely experiences of being treated like a silly little child who made a silly little mistake and needs to be reminded that he/she screwed up his/her life because of it at least once. Very few avoid that stigma, and those that do are the one surrounded by people who see them as being or very close to becoming adults.

Going back to the idea that teens are or are becoming adults doesn't mean going back to the "hide the unplanned pregnancy of an unmarried woman" idea. Those two things are not even in the same ball park, since adult women (by our current standards) were often subject to similar views back then. It just means not treating a 16 year old the same way we treat a 4 year old. Not all teens have any more of a choice. Many teen girls in the west have the choice of telling their parents they are pregnant and being forced to do things they don't want to because of it, or hiding the pregnancy and delivering a baby with no support, hidden away somewhere with no clue what to do with the baby afterwards. How is that better?

As for school, many people are anti-school. From all different walks of life, with all different views. I know people who shun school and want their children to remain childlike almost until the day they marry. I know people who have no kids of their own, who all ready know they aren't going to bother with formal schooling because they are sure it won't fit with their families. I know people (like my dad) who send their kids to public or private schools and still treat them like adults when they are teenagers.

It's not an either/or thing. We can treat teenagers the way they deserve to be treated without forcing anyone into marriage, or babymaking, or into anything they aren't wanting to do. Heck, giving teens the respect they deserve in regards to their ability to make mature, rational decisions isn't what causes that "forcing". Giving them the respect they deserve in regards to their ability to make mature, rational decisions would mean not forcing them to make a choice because we as "adults" know what's right.
post #17 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by journeymom View Post
But the psychologist who called and challenged him right after that also had a great point; our teens also don't have the same problems that teens do in other parts of the world: (my examples, because I can't remember what the caller mentioned) slave labor, sex slavery, child soldiers (with the attendant drug addiction), sexual mutilation, child brides, etc.
One could argue (and probably effectively too) that we don't have as much willingness to admit those things exist as possible situations our teens might face in our culture.

I bolded sex slavery, because I am saying this as someone who is close friends with a former teen (starting at age 12) prostitute.

I bolded sexual mutilation because you only have to visit another portion of MDC to see that there are many people in western cultures that believe sexual mutilation is not only prevelent, but medically encouraged in some places.
post #18 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by MamaMonica View Post
Yes, and others go into trade school. I know a couple of homeschooled students who went directly into trade school and or employment (via a job that was like an aprenticeship) very successfully.
Yes, american kids have a lot of options. I found epstein to be really behind date. There's something about an *expert* advocating homeschooling while bashing his child's school that sits badly with me. I spent too long in the homeschooling community. It can be a wonderful thing, so can school. The reality is that the more options people REALIZE they have the better, but he doesn't seem to realize that all these options already exist and that he could make them a reality for his own child.

So he's about a decade behind me.
post #19 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post
The reality is that the more options people REALIZE they have the better, but he doesn't seem to realize that all these options already exist and that he could make them a reality for his own child.
Good point.
post #20 of 21
Truth is in the middle.

I grew up in the Ukraine in a culture oh so different from the US. I was "a good teen", but even so, I remember bursting into tears without a cause, I remember saying foolish things that were out of my head by my early 20s.

If you go to Cambodia, they will tell you that Khmer Rouge used teenage boys to torture prisoners, because they were more willing than adults to inflict pain.

Now, I can't disagree that "child-adult continuum" is important. But, he says that everyone is brainwashed, and kids don't want to spend the time with adults, and don't see them as someone to look up to, and the adults don't know how to reach out to. Yet, who brainwashed Mark Twain to say:

“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”

The old African proverb about "if you don't invite the youth to the dance, they'll burn down the village" again points to something that this speaker is not recognizing.

And he should come and visit a country where public school is not necessary past the age of 14... It's NOT something you will want over here, and as PP mentioned, it's not something women will want to relive.

What do I agree with?
I think not shying away from giving teens more responsibilities is a great idea. I think it IS worth to look at how high schools are set up, it would be nice to change things around on a more technical level, and I speak as a public school teacher who would LOVE to change the way schools look, feel and educate. I think it's a great idea to create opportunities for teens to have more interaction with adults. I think it IS very much worth examining how to change education system, but there is good and bad in every place, and it is a bit simplistic to blame everything on the drug companies, imho.
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