Is there a parent out there who can’t relate to the first sentence of The Teenage Brain, by Frances E. Jensen, MD?
She’s a neuroscientist specializing in adolescent brain development and the mother of two teenage boys, and her book is “a survival guide” full of important information about how brains develop, what’s going on inside the skulls of adolescents, and what this means for how we parent and educate our teens and young adults.
I’ve just started reading this book, and here are a few of the nuggets I’ve already discovered:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
I like Victorian-era cemeteries, and whenever I visit one the Serenity Prayer enters my mind.
In those days there was no cure for tuberculosis, which was romantically called “consumption” and which along with other infectious diseases filled the churchyards and necessitated the creation of vast new burying grounds.
Victorian cemeteries were intended as parks where families could picnic and visit their departed loved ones on Sunday afternoons.
These are the simplest pieces of wisdom in this whole collection, and they are amazingly powerful.
Oh, how I wish I could relive those days in my 20’s, 30’s, 40’s (days?…actually years) of chronic weariness, when I was heroically trying to “do it all” and muddling through on way too little sleep.
Love may seem magical, whimsical, steered by the forces of fate, timing and chemistry…but, in fact, love thrives when people behave well towards one another and withers when they treat one another badly. (Duh!!)
I make my living working with kids, and it’s my impression that most of them have little clue as to what they want to do with their lives, and that they find the very question terrifying.
I’m part of that generation of women who were told we could have it all and actually believed it.
When I was a kid math was not my forte, and in eighth grade I was struggling and failing at algebra. So my mom went to the local bookstore and bought me a review book (picture the mid-1970’s version of Algebra for Dummies).
For one thing, due to our limited powers of attention (see Day One) we never get the whole story to begin with. Then, every time we recall an event our minds edit and interpret and embellish, like a fish story.
And we do an especially inaccurate job on emotionally loaded events; we freight those memories with so much emotional baggage that they become personal fairy tales more than actual recollections.
People use words as weapons, to defend themselves. It is common for people to attack with anger when they are afraid and to become insulting when they are hurt or jealous. -Dr. Shirley Glass
When we are anxious or angry we can’t think straight. This means we ought to avoid taking action or having heavy conversations while immersed in these mood states.
The emotions of fear and anger trigger our internal fight-or-flight mechanism, which sends epinephrine (adrenalin) gushing through our bloodstream. Our heart races, our blood pressure shoots up, our platelets ready themselves to clot in case we are injured…and our higher-level thinking skills shut down. After all, it doesn’t take a lot of brainpower to run from a saber-toothed tiger.