Everyone remembers the children’s fable about a chicken called “Chicken Little” or “Henny Penny” who believes the sky falls when an acorn falls on her head. While the phrase “the sky is falling” is now kind of a cliché, it does pop up from time to time, especially during a pandemic. Raising or working with today’s trendy, hyperactive teens, it can seem like on some days a psychological disaster is happening or imminent.
Searching for meaning, suspended between childhood and adulthood, experimenting with new relationships and saturated with social media, it can plunge you into the so called ‘new age of anxiety’. It’s also a situation tailor-made for a new book written by a New York psychoanalyst like Dr. Erica Komisar, a family medicine therapist specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of children and adolescents.
For Freudian psychoanalysts like Komisar, the experiences of childhood and adolescence greatly shape the lives of adults and are the source of psychological distress and subsequent emotional turmoil. In her case, she is famous (or infamous) for cutting against the grain in her regular public commentaries and opinion columns, appearing primarily in the Wall Street Journal.
Two of Komisar’s recent comments have raised a hornet’s nest because they question the urban and secular values prevalent in North America. She has touched parents by taking a definitive stand on two crucial issues: spending more time with children during motherhood and imparting heartwarming religious beliefs during adolescence. While rooted in the classic theories of Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalysis, they are also radically out of sync with today’s secular and materialistic values that dominate television, social media, and North American popular culture.
For Komisar, giving voice to such opinions has led her to ABC’s Good Morning America and other high-profile mainstream television shows. It also turned the little l-liberal New Yorker into a virtual outcast rejected in liberal intellectual circles as a prophet of anti-feminist and artisan family values. Five years after the publication of her first book, Being There: Why Prioritizing Motherhood in the First Three Years Matters, and two years after one of those Wall Street Journal columns went viral, she is still holding on after weathering the storm. media. Advising atheist parents to pretend to believe in God, essentially ‘lying to the kids’, to provide troubled or lost teens with a sense of comfort is controversial advice at best that can be difficult to shake in the public domain. .
“Second Chances” was the proposed title for Komisar’s latest book addressing the formidable challenge of raising teenagers in the aptly named “New Age of Anxiety”. When its sequel to Being There appeared in November 2021, it did so with the clickbait title Chicken Little, the Sky is not Falling. This title is also a bit misleading. It’s actually more about giving parents a second chance to get it right than dispelling the popular mythology that the sky is indeed falling during a family pandemic.
Komisar has very specific views on the “right” and “wrong” way of parenting. Some of its positions, such as prioritizing personal relationships with your children and regulating the use of technology and social media, are common sense. A number of others irritate professional women and working mothers simply because they promote a more family-centered, child-centered approach to raising children and guiding adolescent development.
While Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg is the epitome of “leaning forward” to seize professional opportunities, Komisar is now the best-known promoter of staying at home or devoting more time to business. motherhood in the early years. “Mothers who work and don’t work,” she writes in Being There, “should strive to be as present as possible during the first three years of their child’s life.
Being a good mother, according to Komisar, comes with pretty high expectations. Nurturing a sense of “attachment” is “an ongoing process throughout the first year” and one which requires “continuous maintenance of a fraction of a second”. Additionally, your child’s cognitive development, future mental health, and general well-being depend to a large extent on these early parent-child interactions. By reading her books, mothers who have returned to work or who have placed their young children in child care programs can be forgiven for feeling that they may have failed in early parenting.
An American mother and blogger, Melissa Langsam Braunstein, saw in Komisar’s first book an increase in the pressure felt by most moms. “I can’t remember the last time I read something that made me feel so judged,” she wrote in November 2017. To do as a parent is not good enough .
Little the Sky Chicken Won’t Fall doesn’t coat the “scary” aspect of teen parenting, but it sets a more optimistic tone. While many parents regret not spending more time with their children in the early years, they get a second chance to get out of it during the period known as the “long adolescence” of nine to 25 years.
The good news is, you get a second chance when the kids hit their teens. “We expect more from adolescents today than ever before, and yet we are giving them less,” Komisar told me in a recent interview. “They are growing faster and faster and it’s accelerated by social networks. This is what makes it such a vulnerable time. But it is “never too late” for parents to “improve or repair your relationship with your child.”
“Adolescence has always been a time of stress – a difficult time for a child’s development – but now it is a greater test of resilience. The accumulation of new expectations has “won” him to the point that adolescents are, in his words, “adultimorfied” or treated like adults before they are fully prepared to take on these responsibilities and pressures. Parents who recognize the changing nature of adolescence and strive to provide “a solid foundation of support, emotional security, and real, meaningful connections” can make a difference in shaping their lives.
What the author provides is a fairly comprehensive, well-researched, and researched guide, packed with mostly sound and practical advice covering the gamut of contemporary issues, including gender and gender identity, anxiety, and depression, eating disorders, ADHD, vaping, bullying / cyberbullying, and social media addiction.
The author is at her best to give advice to parents and teens on identifying and relieving mental health issues and helping teens overcome academic and social pressures. Much of this stems from lessons learned from clinical practice in Manhattan and the upbringing of her three teenage children. Although the book was written before the pandemic, it deals with family pressures, excessive use of social media, and increasing social isolation at home and through the internet.
Komisar paid a price for taking a public stand on adolescent insecurity and the enduring value of belief in God. “As a therapist, I am always asked to explain why depression and anxiety are so common in children and adolescents,” she wrote in her widely read opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal. in December 2019. “One of the most important – and perhaps the most overlooked – explanations is the decline in interest in religion,” she added. “This cultural shift has already proved disastrous for millions of vulnerable young people. ”
This play, with the sensational title, “Don’t Believe in God? Lie to Your Children, ”caused great fury, obscuring the true message. Its focal point, lost in the media storm, was in fact solidly based on a 2018 Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health study that linked religious education to better health and well-being in the early days of the world. adulthood. The study found that young people who attended weekly church services or practiced daily prayer or meditation experienced “greater satisfaction with life and greater positivity in their twenties” – and were “less likely to have by following symptoms of depression, smoking, using street drugs or having sex. transmitted infection – than those brought up with less regular spiritual habits.
His latest book may have a catchy title, but it is unlikely to become a bestseller. Since leaving Being there, Komisar is much more aware of what it takes to capture the mood of the mass reading audience. It is even more difficult when you take a moral position in favor of prioritizing motherhood and the defense of religious values. “You are fighting social trends,” her closest confidante recently commented. One of his own teenagers took on a more optimistic tone. “Don’t worry, mom, you influenced a stage of babies.”
Paul W. Bennett, Ed.D., is Principal of the Schoolhouse Institute, Halifax, NS, and Adjunct Professor of Education, Saint Mary’s University. His latest book is The State of the System: A Reality Check on Canada’s Schools (2020).
Paul is a Troy Media thought leader. For interview requests, click here.
Submitted by Convivium, Cardus’ online magazine. Cardus is a leading think tank and registered charity. Convivium is an editorial content provider partner of Troy Media. The opinions expressed by our columnists and contributors are theirs and do not inherently or expressly reflect the views of our post.
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