Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. ~Charles W. Eliot

Friday, December 3, 2010

Adolescent Social Agression - Them's Fightin' Words!

I attended a parent workshop this morning on "Social Aggression". This concept comprises actions directed at damaging another's self-esteem, social status, or both, and includes social ostracism, gossip, talking behind backs, verbal attacks, glaring and eye-rolling, and manipulating relationships. Social Aggression is a concept that characterizes the adolescent years. Oy! One of the trickiest parts of rising to the parenting challenge during these years is the underlying need to acknowledge that each one of our children can be both aggressor and victim. Yes, even the "good kids" can be bad. That's a tough nut to swallow. It's not easy to accept that your own child might be damaging the self-esteem of another. Not easy but critically important because we need to spend a lot of time during these years setting boundaries, saying no and teaching our kids how to treat one another and we also need to teach them how to deal with victimization themselves.

As parents, we have primary responsibility for teaching our children values, responsibility and the difference between right and wrong. We can look to schools to reinforce our messages but we can't expect schools to be the front-runners on this. As psychotherapist Steven Friedfeld, who facilitated this morning's discussion, suggested, these are the years in which our children are learning about relationships and relatability. Our role is to say "No"; their role is to push back. It's up to us to teach them to push back and disagree and express themselves and find their place respectfully because this "dance" will be re-played in all their future relationships and they need to learn the moves appropriately and authentically in a safe haven created by their parents. Steven Friedfeld also said that if what you're saying to your child isn't getting through, raising the volume won't help; rather, it's time to change your tactic. But sometimes raising the volume seems like the only way...

A few years ago I read a book called Everything I Needed to Know About Being a Girl I Learned from Judy Blume. The book is a compilation of 24 essays paying tribute to the influence of Judy Blume and her work about coming-of-age as a girl. I loved this book because, in fact, everything I needed to know about being a girl I learned from Judy Blume! Needless to say that when I met the great Ms. Blume this past spring, I nearly fainted. Reading Judy Blume when I was a kid was like watching Seinfeld as an adult; no matter what the situation, I could relate. Judy's Blume's Are You There God It's Me Margaret and Blubber (and, yeah, pretty much all of her middle grade books) seem to me to be the perfect books for adolescent girls to read to help them find their way (not instead of their parents but as an extra measure - one that will empower them because they'll be doing some of the figuring out on their own). It's a tough road to navigate, to be sure, but when they're done with the books, and you're all talked out, it might be a good idea to take another look at Katy Perry's Firework video that I blogged about on November 2 and the It Gets Better Project videos that I blogged about on October 23.

No comments:

Post a Comment