CM January 26, 
1996. Vol. 2, Number 15

image Every Adult's Guide to Talking to Teens.

Kathy Paterson.
Markham: Pembroke Publishers, 1995. 128pp, paper, $12.95.
ISBN 1-55138-061-7.

Subject Headings:
Adolescent psychology.

Review by Harriet Zaidman.


As adults, many of us have (thankfully) forgotten the intense periods of self-doubt, anxiety, and despair that accompany this period of growth. When we attempt to solve an issue that arises with an adolescent, whether it be in the classroom or in the home, we do so from our adult perspective, based on our experiences and our desire to help. What we sometimes forget is that the adolescent also has his or her own perspective that needs to be heard and addressed before the issue at hand can be dealt with effectively.

 Kathy Paterson is a junior-high teacher with twenty years of experience dealing with the ups and downs of adolescence. She addresses teachers, parents, and youth workers in her book, and offers them frank advice on the whole range of problems that arise during this period of great change in a young person's life. Examples from her years of teaching illustrate nearly every issue she discusses.

Every Adult's Guide to Talking to Teens is based on a questionnaire Paterson distributed to teenagers as a way of finding out which issues were important to them. (The questionnaire is included in the appendix.) The questions allowed the respondents space to comment, and addressed issues many adults are not comfortable discussing. Topics ranged from sexuality to drugs, homework, attitudes about adults, and self-esteem. The resulting book has six chapters, further divided into subtopics. Analysis develops as the chapter proceeds.

Paterson offers solutions, but is never preachy. She acknowledges that the adolescent behaviours she discusses are common, and that expert help must be sought for more extreme cases. She offers a variety of suggestions for creating a flexible structure to negotiate solutions to problems, develop an atmosphere of mutual respect, and build a framework for different types of discipline.

The thrust of her argument is that adults can provide positive role models for teens by being there for them, by listening to them, and by acknowledging that the teen perspective is as important as the adult perspective. Problems have solutions to which the adult and the teen can both contribute.

The "problem" of dealing with adolescent challenge to authority and experimentation with emerging adulthood is nothing new. But Paterson gives a very current perspective on it by dealing honestly with the issues kids face in the 1990s. Every Adult's Guide to Talking to Teens provides a good overview for adults interested in improving their ability to communicate with teenagers.


Harriet Zaidman is a Winnipeg teacher/librarian.

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Copyright © 1996 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364

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