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COMMENTARY 889.2: Advice About Teens

by Michael Josephson on July 21, 2014

in Parenting, Family

Here are three suggestions for the parents of young teens, all learned through my own mistakes:

First, remember, with emerging demands for independence, worries about peer acceptance, pressures of school and extra-curricular activities and a continuous search for self-identity, adolescents are on a physical and emotional roller coaster. Like every generation before them (including yours), young teens are often arrogant and over-confident about their knowledge and your ignorance, and deeply insecure about most other things. They will make mistakes, behave badly and be thoroughly self-absorbed. Though they want you to be less involved in their lives, they actually need you more. And despite continuous battles, if you’re open, you will experience glorious moments both of you will cherish all your lives.

Second, be firm but choose your battles carefully. Don’t back down when you are dealing with an important principle but don’t make every issue a hill you’re willing to die on. Be willing to lose occasionally and even give in graciously.

Third, don’t belittle or underestimate [click to continue…]

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COMMENTARY 889.1: Box Full of Love

July 18, 2014 Caring, Compassion

Todd was a sadly quiet eleven-year-old struggling to adjust to the death of his mother. His father left long ago and he was living with an aunt who made it known that she resented the responsibility. On several occasions, Sheryl, the boy’s teacher, heard the aunt tell Todd, “If it weren’t for my generosity you […]

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COMMENTARY 888.5: Do I Have to Tell Everything?

July 17, 2014 Choices

Can a job applicant properly withhold information about a criminal record or being fired in a previous job? Can a woman who has just started dating properly say nothing about a previous marriage or abortion? These are problems of candor: When does an ethical person have a duty to reveal negative information about his past? […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 888.4: Mental Sunshine and Flowers

COMMENTARY 888.4: Mental Sunshine and Flowers

July 16, 2014 Caring, Compassion

Dave had to undergo painful throat surgery. Since he’s not a young man and makes his living as a professional speaker, the experience was frightening and traumatic. He told me his surgeon was skilled and the hospital workers were competent, but the cold indifference of the parade of nurses and doctors who came in and […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 888.3: Using All Your Strength

COMMENTARY 888.3: Using All Your Strength

July 15, 2014 Choices

A young boy was walking with his father along a country road. When they came across a very large tree branch the boy asked, “Do you think I could move that branch?” His father answered, “If you use all your strength, I’m sure you can.” So the boy tried mightily to lift, pull and push […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 888.2: The Struggle Between Wants and Shoulds

COMMENTARY 888.2: The Struggle Between Wants and Shoulds

July 14, 2014 Commentaries

As a full-time ethicist – can you believe there is such a thing? – I spend most of my time talking about right and wrong with parents and politicians, kids and corporate managers, journalists and generals. One thing I’ve learned is that ethics – being a good person and doing the right thing – is […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 888.1: The Ethics of Gay Rights and Same-Sex Marriage

COMMENTARY 888.1: The Ethics of Gay Rights and Same-Sex Marriage

July 11, 2014 Caring, Compassion

(This is one of those commentaries that evokes passionate response and, sadly, a few people will disagree so strongly that they decide to cut me out of their lives by cancelling their newsletter subscription or putting me on the “block sender” list. I realize the issue of same-sex marriage is only one aspect of the […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 887.5: The Greyhound Principle

COMMENTARY 887.5: The Greyhound Principle

July 10, 2014 Commentaries

Racing dogs are trained to chase a mechanical rabbit that always goes a little faster than the fleetest dog. This causes them to run faster than they otherwise would. Companies that annually set overly ambitious performance objectives for their employees employ this greyhound principle. To a point, it works. Most people achieve more when expectations […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 887.4: Enough Is Enough

COMMENTARY 887.4: Enough Is Enough

July 9, 2014 Choices

What does it take to make you happy? How much do you have to have to be grateful? To the barefoot man, happiness is a pair of old shoes. To the man with old shoes, it’s a pair of new shoes. To the man with new shoes, it’s more stylish shoes. And, of course, the […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 887.3: Learning From Pigeons

COMMENTARY 887.3: Learning From Pigeons

July 8, 2014 Choices

During an experiment, pigeons were put in cages with one green and one red button.  In one cage, if the birds pecked the green button they would get food every time.  In the other, the green button yielded food erratically and the pigeons had to persist to get enough food.  In both cases, pecking the […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 887.2: Being Decisive

COMMENTARY 887.2: Being Decisive

July 7, 2014 Commentaries

Frank is a new supervisor who wants to do well. Maria consistently comes in late. When he confronts her, she makes a joke out of it. Hoping to win friendship and loyalty, Frank is painfully patient with her, but Pat, a conscientious employee, urges him to do more. Soon others begin to come in late, […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 887.1: Democracy and Respectful Discourse

COMMENTARY 887.1: Democracy and Respectful Discourse

July 4, 2014 Commentaries

On this Fourth of July, I hope you will take time to experience pride in and appreciation for the great qualities of our country. One quality of our democracy is that every citizen is a public official. Thus, the passionate advocacy of political convictions is not only a right, it’s a patriotic obligation. What worries me, however, […]

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Memo From Michael: How do you do the right thing when you’re not sure what the right thing is? (Even ethicists face dilemmas).

July 3, 2014 Memo From Michael

[Revised July 4, 2014] (What follows are lengthy musings of an ethicist struggling to live his values in the real world.) Have you ever found yourself in a place (I don’t mean a physical location) you really don’t want to be in and  wondered how you got there and how you can get out of […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 886.5: Happiness and Purpose

COMMENTARY 886.5: Happiness and Purpose

July 3, 2014 Choices

As you celebrate the Fourth of July, please take time to discuss with your family the historical and spiritual significance of the Declaration of Independence and the 56 men who risked their lives issuing one of the great documents in human history. At the core of the Declaration is the profound assertion that each of […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 886.4: The Road to Significance

COMMENTARY 886.4: The Road to Significance

July 2, 2014 Commentaries

The most traditional way to measure the quality of one’s life is to evaluate success by listing accolades, achievements, and acquisitions. After all, in its simplest terms, success is getting what we want and most people want wealth and status. Yet, as much pleasure as these attributes can bring, the rich, powerful, and famous usually […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 886.3: Is Happiness Around the Corner?

COMMENTARY 886.3: Is Happiness Around the Corner?

July 1, 2014 Commentaries

For lots of people, happiness is just around the corner. They just need to get their degree, a particular job, a promotion, or a raise. Maybe they’re waiting to get married or have a child. Perhaps they will be happy when they retire. Alfred D’ Souza said, “For a long time it seemed to me […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 886.2: The Paradoxical Commandments

COMMENTARY 886.2: The Paradoxical Commandments

June 30, 2014 Commentaries

In 1968, when Kent M. Keith was a 19-year-old sophomore at Harvard, he wrote the Paradoxical Commandments as part of a booklet for student leaders. He describes the Commandments as guidelines for finding personal meaning in the face of adversity: 1. People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. Love them anyway. 2. If you do good, […]

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Archer - Edmund Burke quote

QUOTE & OBSERVATION: All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing. — Edmund Burke

June 28, 2014 Quotes, Observations

Irish and English statesman Edmund Burke said, “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.” This is true of major evils like the unabated rise of Nazism in the 30s and 40s and the toleration of, or indifference to, the outrageous ideas and actions of the KKK in the […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 886.1: The Truth About Trust

COMMENTARY 886.1: The Truth About Trust

June 27, 2014 Choices

Everyone seems to understand the importance of trust. No one seems to doubt the vital role that  it plays in personal relationships, business and politics. We want to trust the people in our lives and we want them to trust us. Trust is so hard to earn and so easy to lose. So why do […]

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Thumbnail image for Memo From Michael: Good Wolf Versus Evil Wolf

Memo From Michael: Good Wolf Versus Evil Wolf

June 26, 2014 Memo From Michael

I haven’t written a personal note for quite a while. Earlier this week I revealed that I have been preoccupied for more than six months with a lawsuit my family and I reluctantly filed against the Archer School for Girls, its head of school Elizabeth English and its Board of Trustees (see JosephsonVsArcher.com to read […]

53 comments Read more »
Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 885.5: What Your Checkbook and Calendar Say About Your Values

COMMENTARY 885.5: What Your Checkbook and Calendar Say About Your Values

June 26, 2014 Commentaries

If I wanted to check your credit worthiness, I’d look at your balance sheet — what you have and what you owe — and I’d want to know about your history of paying your debts. If I wanted to know your values, I’d look at your calendar and checkbook. How come? Well, the term “values” refers to core […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 885.4: A Person of Character

COMMENTARY 885.4: A Person of Character

June 25, 2014 Caring, Compassion

Let’s face it, it’s not easy to become a person of character. It takes a good heart, but it also requires wisdom to know right from wrong and the discipline to do right even when it’s costly, inconvenient or difficult. Becoming a person of character is a lifelong quest to be better. A person of […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 885.3: Sharpen Your Ax

COMMENTARY 885.3: Sharpen Your Ax

June 24, 2014 Commentaries

Ben was a new lumberjack who swung his ax with great power. He could fell a tree in 20 strokes, and in the first few days he produced twice as much lumber as anyone else. By week’s end, he was working even harder, but his lead was dwindling. One friend told him he had to […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 885.2 : What I’ve Learned: The Perspective From 13-Year-Olds

COMMENTARY 885.2 : What I’ve Learned: The Perspective From 13-Year-Olds

June 23, 2014 Commentaries

A few years ago I got a note from Sam Rangel, an eighth-grade teacher in Corona, California. He distributed some of my commentaries on “What I’ve Learned” to his students and asked them to write down what they’d learned over the past year or in their lives. Here’s the world of growing wisdom from the […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 885.1: Clichés and Milestones

COMMENTARY 885.1: Clichés and Milestones

June 20, 2014 Commentaries

One of the things I hate most about clichés is that whenever I experience milestone experiences, I have to admit they are true. There’s nothing unique or original about my feelings except that they are mine. So, when I witnessed my daughter Samara turn 18, my mind and heart flooded with trite and corny thoughts […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 884.5: Middle School Commencement

COMMENTARY 884.5: Middle School Commencement

June 19, 2014 Commentaries

When I was asked to deliver the commencement address at my nephew Jaren’s middle school graduation, I worried more than normal. After all, 14- and 15-year-olds are especially tough. First, they’re subject to torrential hormonal surges that can generate vast mood and personality swings. They can be wonderfully agreeable and fun to be with one moment, […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 884.4: Wisdom in 20 Words or Fewer: Part One

COMMENTARY 884.4: Wisdom in 20 Words or Fewer: Part One

June 18, 2014 Commentaries

Since my children were small, I launched their day with the invocation to “be good, have fun and learn.” I hope they remember that mantra, but when my daughter Samara began her independent life as a college freshman 3,000 miles away, I thought a more detailed set of maxims was needed. So I assembled a collection of […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 884.3: The Commencement Curse

COMMENTARY 884.3: The Commencement Curse

June 17, 2014 Commentaries

Millions of teenagers across the land are about to leave the womb of high school for a world full of new freedoms and responsibilities. Although many have been waiting for this event for a long time, eager to get on with their lives as liberated adults, the thought of leaving behind friends and familiar places […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 884.2: We Expect More of Adults

COMMENTARY 884.2: We Expect More of Adults

June 16, 2014 Commentaries

Although 11-year-old Mark wasn’t much of an athlete, his dad urged him to play youth baseball. Mark liked to play, but he was hurt by the remarks of teammates and spectators whenever he struck out or dropped a ball. Just before the fourth game of the season, Mark told his dad he didn’t want to […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 884.1: Refuse to Be Afraid

COMMENTARY 884.1: Refuse to Be Afraid

June 13, 2014 Caring, Compassion

Tim Wrightman, a former All-American UCLA football player, tells a story about how, as a rookie lineman in the National Football League, he was up against the legendary pass rusher Lawrence Taylor. Taylor was not only physically powerful and uncommonly quick but a master at verbal intimidation. Looking young Tim in the eye, he said, […]

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