Friday, May 21, 2010

Turning Your Teen Into a Neurotic

I just discovered this curious little book at our local Borders. I was first drawn to it by its extremely unsettling title. Are the teenagers now expected to be "highly effective"? Effective in what? I mean, they are kids, why even use such a strange language to describe them?

After I opened this miniature book, I realized that its main goal was to convince teenagers that they are never too young to start transforming themselves into efficient little robots whose goal is to be "successful"  at all costs. Having fun, hanging out with friends, playing, flirting, enjoying your existence - all these activities should be expelled from a teenager's life since they cannot be construed as either "effective" or "productive."

Here is a sample of wisdom that this book offers to poor teenagers:
All successful people have the habit of doing the things failures don't like to do. They don't like doing them either. But this dislike is subordinated to the strength of their purpose.
Obviously, the purpose of this "successful" individual does not include being happy or enjoying life. The quote makes a lot more sense if we substitute the word "neurotic" for successful. It's also curious how a person who refuses to do things s/he doesn't enjoy is necessarily seen as a "failure." In this masochistic worldview, the only permissible lifestyle is the one that includes constant self-repression and suffering.

Other pieces of advice the book offers include making weekly lists of the goals you need to achieve and looking at yourself in a mirror in order to find in yourself qualities that need to be eradicated.

When will the legacy of the Puritans finally be overcome, I wonder?


Pagan Topologist said...

Was it Thoreau who wrote that most people lead lives of quiet desperation? This is sad.

Anita said...

Covey's other book with that title (for adults) was so successful - guess he thinks he can earn a bit more from this one with the same buzz word title.

So many of us with school aged kids get caught up in the hysteria of producing kids who will be perfect/successful as adults. It's actually harder to "not compete" than it is to "compete."

I wrote a post when all the college acceptances were coming in.

Steve Hayes said...

As a friend of mine once wrote: We don't want to look like a failure, and just for that reason we are one.

Carrie said...

We read this in one of my classes, freshman year of high school, about ten years ago. Pretty crazy stuff. Even as a 14 year old I thought it sounded pretty insane.