Archive for March, 2013

Have you talked to your teens about the Steubenville Rape?

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

Steubenville Defense attorney Walter Madison plans to appeal the verdict in this case because he feels his client should not have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, based on scientific evidence that would support the brain isn’t fully developed at age 16.

No kidding…Socrates and Plato could have told you that

The young people of today think of nothing but themselves. They have no reverence for parents or old age. They are impatient of all restraint. They talk as if they alone knew everything and what passes for wisdom with us is foolishness with them.’ So Socrates said, according to his student Plato.

Plato added, ‘What is happening to our young people? They disrespect their elders, they disobey their parents. They ignore the law. They riot in the streets inflamed with wild notions. Their morals are decaying. What is to become of them?

Neuroscientist Sarah Jayne Blakemore illustrates this finding in this TED talk.  She explains that research done in the past 15 years, possible as a result of advances in brain imaging technology, proves the adolescent brain development, specifically the prefrontal cortex, controls decision making, planning, inhibiting inappropriate behavior, and social interaction which helps to understand other people.  It isn’t developed until adolescents reach their twenties or even thirties.

Furthermore, synapses pruning takes place during adolescence where environment can have a profound impact on tissues that stay and connect and others that are pruned away.   The good news is that the brain is most adaptable during this period. The great philosophers tell us that it’s always been this way, so what is different today?   

Your child is on a world stage where mistakes and bad choices can be replayed, forever.

This is where we [parents] come in, and the bottom line is that due to social media and smart phones, raising teens has become exponentially more difficult.   Even with younger children with access to such ubiquitous technology, it’s as if you left your front door open, and strangers are pouring in talking to your children without your knowledge or supervision. 

Treat this situation as if your child had an illness; you would not be passive.   The information from Sarah Jayne Blakemore tells us you do have control over the outcome because you are the most important part of your adolescent’s environment.  Engage your children in a constant discussion on your rules and values; best done when given full attention and no one is checking messages.

What can you do right now?

  1. Have frequent discussions with your children about choices, consequences and values
  2. Know the passwords to all your children’s accounts, and read posts and text messages to make sure they are not a bully or being bullied
  3. Be familiar with their ‘friends’ and make sure they are 16 as they say, and not 54

In a prior blog post, Sometimes you need to have an awkward conversation, I suggested that especially with teenagers, we trust but verify. 

Just to be clear; parenting was never meant to be a democracy. 

Have a great week!

Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®