Where I work I see a lot of crappy parenting. I see good parenting too, but a lot of the parenting I actually notice is just crappy. Beyond the actual "call CPS already" situations I've seen, there's crap like the mom who told her child "books are for children, movies are for adults," parents who ignore their crying children in favor of Facebook, and parents who let their children wander at will. Then there's the minor things. Parents who will not let their child do something as simple as carry their own books, insisting they need to be put in the bag instead, for no reason at all.
Luckily, Lauren Kessler isn't a crappy parent. I think she's just tired and worn out. She's very honest in this book. You do see the moments when she should have made a different decision, and she doesn't downplay that. She does tend to do things that are the equivalent of not letting her kid carry her own books, but the difference is that she does recognize after the fact that she was doing that, and she gradually learns that empowering your kids really does make them stronger, and like you better.
While I read this book I tried to remember my own teenage years. Honestly, a lot of it is blurry. The mix of hormones and brain shifting that Kessler goes over in the book, along with a lack of sleep and a lot of stress, means memories don't always get written the way they should. I got along pretty well with my parents. I remember we fought, yes, and butted heads, but for the most part my parents were good at the empowerment thing. They really let me know them as individuals, not as just authority figures. Reading this book was actually like reading my friends' accounts of their home life. It was very interesting.
At times Kessler can be a little wordy, but it was actually a breath of fresh air compared to some memoirs I read, where the author never bothers to explain their motivations or thought processes. I almost stopped reading the book at the point where she begins discussing the internet, but I'm happy I continued on because she didn't resort to the scare tactics or propaganda that media outlets try to feed people. She actually tried out these websites herself and educated herself the way everyone ought to.
All in all - a good and enlightening read. I think all former teenagers should read it.