Sunday, July 27, 2014

Book review: "13 is the New 18" by Beth J. Harpaz

Parents: How many of you would willingly lay bare your family life, blemishes and all, for the world to see? How many of you would share your parenting decisions good and bad for other parents to discuss and critique?

This is the risky step that Beth Harpaz does in her 2009 book "13 is the New 18."

Parents will find this an enjoyably easy read, even if they are sometimes disturbed by Harpaz's parenting.

The book starts lightly with Harpaz's bemused look at such things as the perils of traveling with children and the peculiarly strong fashion sense of her 13-year-old son, Taz.

"He is far more interested in cleaning his sneakers than he is in say, cleaning his room, or even brushing his teeth," Harpaz notes.

She pulls her punches here more than I would like. When her son wants $120 sneakers, she starts to say how outrageous that is hell, yes!   but is worn down into admitting the shoes are "aesthetically pleasing."

Soon, the tone of the book turns more serious as Taz runs into trouble in and out of school.

This is not one of those books where the author tells parents that everything they've been doing is wrong. Quite the opposite. Harpaz jokingly calls herself the "World's Worst Mother," and I think that any parent reading this will find some of her parenting questionable.

She overreacts to some things and under reacts to others. There are parts where Taz is clearly a little snot, and deserves a more serious punishment than he gets.

But, frankly, what Harpaz does in this book takes guts. She's going to get criticism because well, that's what other parents do. She deserves some respect for her honest approach. (I do wonder what Taz thinks of having his problems broadcast to the world.)

Reading this book five years after it was published, you discover that it's quickly becoming dated. There are references to MySpace and there's a chapter on Harpaz's discovery of, and infatuation with, Facebook that will make you smirk due to its "gee, whiz!" approach.

I was also amused that she describes the game of Hacky Sack as some kind of new trend. I can tell you from personal experience that Hacky Sack dates back at least to 1980. Clearly, Harpaz is not an author on the cutting edge.  Maybe that even makes her more likeable.

If you want a serious book to help you with parenting, I strongly recommend "Teach Your Children Well" by Madeline Levine.

 (Please support this blog by clicking on an ad, or by donating via the Paypal button below.)

No comments:

Post a Comment