Monday, April 02, 2007

Too Long For Its Own Good

I agree with Ungar that adolescents need high amounts of both risk and responsibility in order that they might mature into adults. Our culture protects kids from risk in general and parents in particular tend towards over protective (avoiding risk) or absent (avoiding responsibility). Kids want adults to communicate that they are compentent, caring contributors to their communities or else they will engage in dangerous, delinquent, deviant and disordered behaviours. The best way to help kids away from the 4 D's just mentioned is to listen to their motivations since kids take risks for reasons. Most times we can find a more pro-social behaviour as a substitute for the 4 D's but we really need to listen to the kids motivation to determine what that substitute might be.

There you go - the book in one paragraph. Ungar clearly knows what he is talking about and occassionally his thought experiments could prove helpful to parents although most seem to involve getting in touch with accurate memories of our own adolescence, an exercise that all youth workers should do prior to getting into youth ministry. By and large though, Ungar repeats himself ad nauseum. I'd rather hear him speak since his anecdotes are interesting but he didn't have enough for a full book. This would be a great article with some real meat but instead is more like pablum - nutritious but very boring after three spoonfuls.

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