Friday, May 24, 2013

Book Review: All Grown Up and No Place to Go by David Elkind

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Title: All Grown Up and No Place to Go: Teenagers in Crisis (Revised Edition)
Author: David Elkind
Publisher: Westview Press Inc
Hardcover: 304 pages
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)
Once our society set aside time for adolescents to grow from children to adults, to become accustomed to their expanding bodies and minds. Now the markers that defined passage—differences in dress, behavior, and responsibilities—have vanished. The institutions that guarded adolescence, such as family and schools, now expect "young adults” to deal with adult issues. Those trends leave teens no time to be teens. All Grown Up and No Place to Go spotlights the pressures on teenagers to grow up quickly. The resulting problems range from common alienation to self-destructive behavior.  
Quoting teenagers themselves, Elkind shows why adolescence is a time of "thinking in a new key,” and how young people need this time to get used to the social and emotional changes their new thinking brings. Many of his ideas, such as the "imaginary audience” that makes teens so self-conscious, have become seminal in adolescent psychology. Already there are more than 175,000 copies of All Grown Up and No Place to Go in print. In this thoroughly revised edition, Elkind also explores the "post-modern family” in which teenagers are growing up. He helps parents and those who work with youth and understand teens in crucial ways, because the root of so many adolescent frictions is the gap between what teenagers need and what our culture provides.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

In All Grown Up and No Place to Go, David Elkind talks about how today’s society is increasing the stressors put onto adolescents and decreasing support due to the view that adolescents are sophisticated and able to make adult decisions. Because of this, they also have no time or space to establish their own identities  and create a moral code that will help them make decisions when adults. Elkind stresses that adolescents need to be supported and given limitations so that they do not engage in risky behavior and have time to establish their identities. Additionally, adults should lead by example and base rules on principles rather than emotions. In this way, we can help our adolescents reduce the stress in their lives and achieve an integrated identity.

I think this book is more important than ever. While the passages he uses are largely drawn from fiction (which I found strange) and are slightly outdated, I think that the concepts Elkind present are still relevant and the issue of adolescents facing tougher challenges with less support needs to be addressed both within schools and within the home. And this book gives great advice both for teachers and parents to help adolescents succeed in today's world.

It's not too long and is a relatively fast read -- I do think some portions are unnecessary and can be skimmed, but the key to supporting adolescents is to understand where they're coming from and what they're dealing with. Although I think that there needs to be another updated version of this, what with the internet revolution, Elkind picks up on important ideas that can give adults a better sense of what it is to be a kid today. If you deal with adolescents on a regular basis in your job, or are the caregiver of adolescents, you should give this a read -- I found it to be incredibly helpful.