Off the Shelf : Joseph Allen

November 03, 2009

November 3, 2009 — Joseph Allen, psychology professor, and Claudia Worrell Allen, associate professor of family medicine and director of behavioral science, U.Va. Health System, "Escaping the Endless Adolescence: How We Can Help Our Teenagers Grow Up Before They Grow Old." Random House.

Today's teens are starved for the lost fundamentals leading to adulthood, the authors write.

Do you sometimes wonder how your teen is ever going to survive on his or her own as an adult? Does your high school junior seem oblivious to the challenges that lie ahead? Does your academically successful 19-year-old still expect you to "just take care of" even the most basic life tasks?

Welcome to the stunted world of the "Endless Adolescence." Recent studies show that today's teenagers are more anxious and stressed and less independent and motivated to grow up than ever before. Twenty-five is rapidly becoming the new 15 for a generation suffering from a debilitating "failure to launch."

Drawing on their extensive research and practice, Allen and Worrell show that most teen problems are not hardwired into teens' brains and hormones, but grow instead out of a "Nurture Paradox" in which efforts to support teens by shielding them from the growth-spurring rigors and rewards of the adult world have backfired badly. With compelling examples and practical and profound suggestions, the authors outline a novel approach for producing dramatic leaps forward in teen maturity.