Looking for Results

KAPP, ISA

WRITERS (^WRITING Looking for Results By Isa Kapp Supposf, there came bounding across your daily horizon a precipitous, long-limbed youngster of passionate disposition, bellicose at noon and...

...And as a poignant example of early social sorrow he invokes a reminiscence by comedian Woody Allen: "Since infancy I felt like a failure...
...But its drawbacks are mainly linguistic, and perhaps such readers ought to put away the intellectual notion that acute observations always come dressed in urbane language...
...Look," says the mother, "I know you and 1 know Mr...
...When they fall they break, as you learned last night...
...more philosophical, speaking of youthful emotions in terms that are ageless...
...Perhaps he only intends these counsels where serious fears and hostilities are not at stake...
...Like those bland and clean-shaven contemporary rabbis who go over so well with communal ladies in the suburbs, Ginott is a shade laughable...
...A modern leader, he wants to move ahead...
...Or whether the reason father makes poor contact with son is rooted, miles from their conversation, in father's uneasy stance in his own community...
...and above all, more novelistic, conveying something of the disarming teenage mixture of reserve, truculence, and eager vulnerability in the Hemingway story Three-Day Blow...
...Nevertheless, the most blase glance into Between Parent and Teenager by Haim G. Ginott (Macmillan, 256 pp., $5.95), is enough to shock you into humbler visions of yourself and speedy revisions of your tactics as a parent...
...His modern grooming costs him the loss of old-time dignity, even trustworthiness...
...He points out the poor effect of harsh judgments (calling a desired blouse "vulgar and ugly" renders the yearner small and stupid...
...If you feel this way, that's how it was for you," prates the newly understanding mother to the girl who feels neglected...
...Whether we react in this vein out of cynicism (everyone must adapt to hard knocks) or utopianism (the world is...
...He's a nice man...
...Would you resort to a matter-of-fact, sometimes complacent psychotherapeutic handbook in order to condition the charged air of your household...
...Continuing the format (as well as the reasoning, and occasionally the very same examples and comments) of his previous best seller, Between Parent and Child, Dr...
...Wrinkled rags do not look alluring...
...He has none of the interest of Edgar Frieden-berg's Coming of Age in America, for example, in the effect of the school system or the general culture upon the teenager's state of mind...
...It has to be admitted that although these conversations may fall like balm on the car of an aggrieved teenager, they look unbelievably pat and stilted to the nonchalant eye of the reader...
...Here in language simple enough for chimney sweeps, with a few rare though savory patches of erudition, are all the unlucky things you said and did, despite intelligence, libertarianism and good intentions...
...Compared with the straight old-fashioned quality of Benjamin Spock (Conversations with Parents), Ginott is like the artifacts of modernity, too rounded and smooth, with no surprising corners...
...I was particularly dismayed to see the precarious position your typewriter was in...
...They come as no surprise, but between the hard covers of a book and the hard edges of clear formulation, they seem too blatant to evade or repeat...
...Ginott has, but only in the most rudimentary way, designated his examples as models on which we can hang our first efforts at coming closer to adolescents...
...To bridge the gloomy gap between theory and practice, he has put his parent-teenager encounters into simple scenarios, meant not to be taken literally, but varied with resourcefulness: to each according to his eccentric needs...
...Yet this is being merely estheticóand Ginott does not aim to impress parents, but to change their ways...
...Readers who are hungry for sophistication and like to take their stand, at least verbally, one rung above their problems, will not be well served by this pragmatic little book...
...Clothing is another item deserving of care and attention...
...One can easily envision a different and delightful sort of book about adolescents: more biological, with that poetic concreteness that Gesell brought to his observation of infants...
...Daniel, age 14, comes home from school bruised in spirit and tells his mother the bus-driver was rude and pushed him...
...That is a wide span, and possibly, despite his lack of ambiguity, Ginott is more complicated than we think...
...Spock can be more honest, more frank about the sexual sources of behavior, even though the laws of sex, like those of biology, are not susceptible to quick change or manipulation: If we are not with them, they go on without us...
...WRITERS (^WRITING Looking for Results By Isa Kapp Supposf, there came bounding across your daily horizon a precipitous, long-limbed youngster of passionate disposition, bellicose at noon and buoyant at dinner, who alternately reduced you to idolatry, helplessness and dismay...
...He promises not self-knowledge, but results...
...Ginott is satisfied, and that may be his most serious fault, that friction begins at home and can be alleviated there, that tactful speech will have an important therapeutic effect...
...This is a delicate piece of machinery and deserves proper care...
...instant understanding ("It distresses them to be so transparent, so naive, so simple, when they feel complex, mysterious, and inscrutable...
...What lesson could a parent welcome more than one that makes him stop feeling powerless...
...Being liberated has not made us less nervous, and Ginott goes on the assumption that it is precisely in the realm of words that some of our deepest incapacities lie...
...In other words, Ginott's optimism and activism console us at every turn...
...A man of deeds, he has apparently discovered, as practitioner, that speech and style do change the speaker as well as the recipient, and small successes breed large ones...
...Please respond in writing...
...extravagant, general praise ("You are always so generous," "you are a great musician" creates anxiety, not pleasure...
...But why should we ask so much of this handy and commonsensical book, which is not without its inspired touches...
...Ginott's distinction lies in locating and discouraging this kind of gratuitous response, spawned more in worry than in anger, and typical of the gray rather than scarlet sins we commit daily against members of our families...
...Ginott recounts such conversations as the following...
...The conditions which prevail in your room are not pleasant...
...To the parent with that uncertain feeling, Ginott brings mild words and the courage of his moderation...
...Even in nursery school, I failed milk...
...But there is still the question: Is he totally superficial to suppose that talking properly means responding properly...
...All these transgressions are of course self-evident to everyone except the inflamed, erring parent...
...I'm sure he didn't mean to hurt you...
...For Ginott, glibness, far from being questionable, represents his victory over problems...
...It's been such a long day for you," parrots mother agreeably to Dora, who is bored by school...
...It's not easy to drive a bus full of wild kids...
...There are some amusing exceptions, like this maternal letter which expresses irritation in the open but undamaging Ginott mode: "I want to ask that your bedroom door remain closed at all times...
...For him, Ginott mainly recommends tempering rather than unleashing his solicitude, and playing a more passive, prosaic, noncommital role in the teenage drama...
...Even in this regard, he is no revolutionary but a meliorist, a kind of psychological Danilo Dolci, urging his followers to make their own small local improvements, and not pay too much attention to the contours of society...
...Speaking of a boy taking out his subconscious fear of his father by acting irritable toward his mother, Spock, uncorrupted by his long career of advice-giving, says, "You may well be skeptical when I glibly make a statement like this...
...You like it when a house looks like a house and a tree like a tree," says mother to Clara who is not an afficionado of abstract art...
...Since, psychologically speaking, we are caught in a period as indeterminate as Matthew Arnold'sówith authority dead, discipline suspect and permissiveness problematicówe cannot count on traditional models...
...And this experience, its texture and tone, is often more decisive than the outside issue they are arguing about...
...But Ginott, even in this field, has his lists of rights and wrongs...
...In defense of anger (tactfully expressed), Ginott quotes William Blake's poem, "I was angry with my friend, I told my wrath, my wrath did end...
...Most likely not, if you are one of those parents who sets great store by intuition, a natural man or a woman who would as lief rely on the professional literature of child-rearing or sex as base her cuisine on McCormick's dried onions...
...Nor, in spite of his emphasis on communication, does he consider Paul Goodman's question in Growing Up Absurd, as to whether the message the adult world conveys, and its values, are at all acceptable to him...
...after all, rational), he warns us not to project, not to futurize, but to speak to a child's more modest and immediate needs, in this case for sympathy and for the parent as unquestioning advocate...
...Love, Mom" By some strange quirk, the language is at its least felicitous after the parent has been to the therapist...
...He may not have found the precise educational level of his audience, but in other respects he is very sure of who they are: middle-class (explosions arise over choosing an expensive coat, missing a skiing trip, borrowing the family car), and weakóthe Ginott parent can be recognized by that common phrase of self-deprecation that comes to his lips when his children do him honor: "I must have done something right...
...What kind of evidence is there...
...All he can really suggest is grace under their pressure...
...He must have been tired...
...The more serious point involved (it may be what has sent so many parents flocking to his first book) is that the speech and manner of the parent, his expression, his degree of fanaticism or geniality, actually create the experience of the moment for the adolescent...
...Smith...
...The language of psychological enlightenment has, in particular, rolled over us faster than it could be absorbed and utilized...

Vol. 52 • July 1969 • No. 14


 
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