Why your young adult is impulsive and 10 other strange facts about the teenage brain

The Teenbage BrainThe brain does not fully mature until many young people are in their late twenties.

The centre in the brain for impulse control, decision-making, judgement, and planning is the last to develop. Not only is this centre the least mature in the teenage and young adult brain, it is the last to connect with other parts of the brain responsible for seeing, tasting smelling, hunger, aggression, emotions, sexuality, and language among other things.

In her book,  “The Teenage Brain – A Neuroscientist’s Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults” Author Frances E. Jensen explains this is why most young people do not  make sound judgements and good decisions.
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When Your Adult Child Breaks Your Heart

20514.widea“When Your Adult Child Breaks You Heart”  is a wonderfully practical, well-organized and straight forward book intended to help parents of adult children with severe problems and who are causing major problems for themselves, their parents and others.

The authors Joel L. Young and Christine Adamec have written extensively on similar topics and know their subject well. This book was published in 2014.

The authors set the tone by explaining that most parents are not to blame for their child’s difficulties and they are determined to help parents stop blaming themselves. The authors believe that mental illness and substance abuse are the core of most problematic behaviour.

They reassure parents by saying that if you can’t think what terrible thing you did to doom your adult child, than you probably didn’t do any terrible thing at all. They provide exercises for  parents to help them realize the limitations of their influence over their child.

They recognize that parents of these children are psychologically traumatized by their previous encounters with the police or courts, and when sensing new problems, their anxiety can turn into panic and depression.

They try to mitigate concerns such as :

  • if I try hard enough I can help my child;
  • I must sacrifice to support my child;
  • no-one amongst our family or friends has ever acted so badly; and
  • if my child loved me he or she would not act this way.

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I and thou–Martin Buber and the in-laws

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For those of you who studied philosophy, you may be wondering how German philosopher Martin Buber could possibly relate to in-laws, and for those of you didn’t, stick with me.  It’s more interesting than you might think. But first I want to tell you three little stories. The names are changed but the stories are real.

Story One.  My friend Barbara revealed during a recent conversation that she prefers to keep her son-in-law emotionally at arm’s length.

“While I love my son-in-law, I never want to put my daughter in a position where she feels she could not leave her husband because of my husband’s and my attachment to him. I wouldn’t want her to feel that she is breaking up the entire family, ” she said.

Story Two.  My friend Jeff told me that he wanted to speak to his daughter about his son and his daughter’s brother, Jared.  Jeff is worried  because Jared is becoming attached to a religious sect that he (Jeff) doesn’t approve of. When I suggested that his daughter’s husband might have some insight into the situation, he responded that he was not comfortable with his son-in-law,  the situation did not involve him and that this was “a family matter.”

Story Three.  My friend Marie told me that she and her husband don’t want to get too close to their daughter’s new partner. They loved her former husband and were very hurt when the young couple broke up.  They don’t want to go through the pain of loosing another son-in-law.

While all these positions are understandable, in each case, the daughter or son-in-law is not equally valued and loved as those born into the family. The implication is that they are not fully part of the family and as a result have second class status. Read More

Far from the Tree – loving your different child

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The imperfect is our paradise.

Note that in this bitterness delight,

Since the imperfect is so hot in us,

Lies in flawed words and stubborn sounds.

                                       —Wallace Stevens

                                           “The Poems of Our Climate”

All parents have to learn to accept and love their children for who they are and not what they want them to be.

This lesson comes that much sooner and harder for parents of children who are significantly different than they are. In their cases, the apple, or child, falls from the tree.

Andrew Solomon‘s recent book  “Far from the Tree”, describes situations that could cause major disappointment and regret– kids who have schizophrenia, autism, down syndrome, dwarfism, and other disabilities, as well as children of rape, who are prodigies, who are transgender and who commit crimes. Solomon is interested in how these parents come to love their children. Read More

Stats Can provides interesting facts about families

Did you know that:

  • The 2011 Canadian census shows that the number of young adults aged 20 to 29 living at home has increased from 27 percent in 1981 to 42 percent in 2011.
  • The 2006 census  shows that nearly four per cent of all marriages in Canada involve a visible minority and a non-visible minority (or a different visible minority) partner. While the actual numbers are low, they represent a 55 per cent increase since 1981 and overall intermarriage rate is one of the highest in the world.
  • The 2011 Canadian census data showed that married couples make up 67 per cent of all families. It was 83 per cent in 1981.
  • The number of same-sex married couples nearly tripled between 2006 and 2011, reflecting the first five-year period for which same-sex marriage has been legal across the country.

For more interesting facts about Canadian families, see the Stats Can web site. You may also wish to read Canadian Families Today: New Perspectives, edited by David Cheal and Patrizia Albanese, published in 2014 by Oxford University Press.

If you have any comments on these or other statistics concerning Canadian families, I would love to hear from you.  Please send a message in the Reply Box below.   

How kids change your lives: The 8 seasons of parenthood

Who would have guessed it!  Not only do we parents affect our kids, our kids affect us!  “The Eight Seasons of Parenthood”, by authors Barbara C. Unell and Jerry L. Wyckoff, examines how kids affect their parents and help determine their identity.

The eight seasons start with pregnancy, the “Celebrity“, and end with the “Rebounder”, when parents accept parent/child role reversal as they decline and die.  The authors interviewed hundreds of parents for their book.

Of interest to parents of adult children are the last three chapters of the book.

The “Family Remodeler” describes the period when children first leave home and their parents remodel their families and redefine their lives.   Read More

The empty nest: Myth and reality


Michael Carson Photo

Michael Carson Photo

September is a month full of grieving parents.

I know, I’ve been one.  As much as we love to see our offspring head for the hallowed halls of universities and colleges, some of us grieve their absence.

The summer before my eldest left for McGill, I was as excited as she was for the adventure that was hers to unfold. On a warm September Sunday, the entire family drove to Montreal for lunch and to settle her in residence. Upon our return home, I sat down in her unusually clean, but now empty purple room and cried for two hours.

It only hit me then—she would never again return home as a child. Read More

Wonder if you’re too involved? Why today’s parents are more involved with their adult children

Do you ever feel like you’re much more involved with your adult children than your parents are or were with you? You’re not the only one!

It’s common knowledge that today’s parents are far more involved with their adult children than parents were a generation ago. That’s because the environment for parenting adult children has changed significantly over the last 30 years and with this new environment, current parents of adult children find themselves doing and saying things that their own parents would never have done.

We find ourselves involved and if we are not, we are wondering why. The idea of a close relationship appeals to many of us, and we find ourselves butting in when perhaps we should be butting out.

So let’s dive a little deeper and explore the many factors that have created this new environment for parenting.

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