BATAVIA — Teens may very well live in a world all their own.
Retired psychologist, author and columnist Joseph Langen has found a way to at least visit them. He has written a book, “Make the Best of Your Teen Years.”
“I wanted to give them some things to think about,” he said at his Le Roy home. “They’re trying to figure out who they are and who they want to be.”
He actually started writing it several years ago and then stopped. He thought he was about finished with the project but left it alone for awhile. Then he asked some people to read it and they — adults and teens alike — said they wanted to see more of the stories. So he went back to work on it and ended up with 11 chapters and a story for each. There are also poems to set the tone.
Langen dedicated his book to his very subjects: a group of teens that shared their own struggles, concerns and experiences. Instead of writing what he thought kids deal with, Langen first issued questionnaires followed by in-depth interviews to be able to better understand their world.
After working with that age group for 35 years, he figured he had a good starting point. But there needed to be more. As a teen, one is no longer a child and not yet an adult, he said. There can be many topics those youth find troubling or, at the very least, puzzling.
So he dove into topics of one’s emotions, family, friends, physical, mental and sexual health, love, difficulties, spirituality and future. Areas within those topics include suicide, self-injury, substance abuse, bullying, death, homosexuality and pregnancy. Each chapter includes a story, loosely based, about a day in the life of a teen.
For example, Alice talks about her appearance while John discovers why a stranger makes him so angry. After the story, Langen makes a series of suggestions. To make better sense of your feelings, he suggests that the reader make a list of things he/she feels bad about and another list of everything he/she is good at doing.
“I wanted to help teens realize they’re not weird,” he said. “The virtual world has taken over. It has really taken away the human part of interaction. It is OK to talk with other people. Don’t limit yourselves to texting. They know what you’re saying but not how you’re feeling.”
He thinks it might be a good idea that parents read some of the book as well. He wasn’t certain if troubled teens would be as inclined to just read this book themselves. It may be a nice gift from a parent, teacher or counselor. It’s also a helpful aid for peers to be able to understand one another, he said.
“The stories are not about any one person; they’re to give you an idea of what it’s like for kids,” he said. “I think it can be a bridge for talking about difficult things with your parents. Teenagers are sort of a mystery.”
Langen worked for more than three decades with children, teens, adults and seniors to help them to deal with assorted stress. He has written six books and his next project is to condense a previous book into 30 pages about stress for teens and adults.
Langen has a blog at https://bestteenyears.wordpress.com/.
For more information about his book, go to Amazon.com. The book is available in either paperback or ebook formats.
Article by Joanne Beck, The Daily News, Batavia NY