04/03/2014 by RFB
This morning this letter written by Jenni Herd was printed in the Times:
Why was Jenni so offended by the article in question? This is how it started:
“It’s not hormones that make them moody and impulsive. A new book by psychiatrist Professor Dan Siegel explains the science of adolescence and how parents can best manage their teens.” – “How to understand your teenagers brain”, Professor Dan Siegel, The Times, 1st March 2014
If you can’t see how that might be offensive, try it out now with another group who have a history of oppression and who experience social prejudice on a daily basis:
“It’s not hormones that make them moody and impulsive. A new book by A. Psychiatrist explains the science of women and how men can best manage their wives.”
Young people, like women, are not something ‘other’. As Herd says, they are not “another species” or “strange creatures from another world” that require scientific investigation to understand and control. Young people are real people. Have we not all been younger than we are right in this moment? Were we not as real then as we are now?
We don’t need science to ‘understand’ teenagers, or young people of any age for that matter. What we do need is empathy, a little emotional intelligence and an interest in relating as people. Rather than attempting to manage young people, parents would be wise to focus their energy on building from birth a respectful and trusting relationship with them. Using science in an attempt to demystify them, even with the best of intentions, undermines their individuality and is both dehumanising and oppressive.
We should all listen to Jenni Herd.