December 1, 2008

Being Prepared: What Boy Scouts Wish They Knew

Preparing for Adolescence by Dr. James Dobson (Bantam Books, 1980, ISBN 0-553-24231-8)

This book was written by: Dr. James Dobson, chairman of the board of the nonprofit Focus on the Family organization and author of Dare to Discipline, which advocates corporal punishment for raising balanced, well-adjusted children. This book helps guide boys and girls through the challenges they will face at adolescence, after you have beaten them into responsible, well-adjusted children.

What is in this book: Advice from a hip cat who wants “to participate in a rap session”(p.109) with adolescents to let them know that they’re not alone in their troubles. Dr. Dobson establishes his street cred quickly, letting you know that if you use this book to help your children through their adolescence, "Knute Rockne would be proud of you!"(p.4), and showing how you and he feel the same pressures to conform to society's ideas of what it means to be current, like their suggestion that “nobody uses hair oil anymore, and if you use it as you did in the fifties and sixties, there must be something wrong with you”(p.36).
Dr. Dobson then uses his uncanny insights into the pressures faced by modern adolescents to sketch an accurate representation of their first encounter with drugs and peer pressure. It starts “in a car with four other young people,” where everyone starts taking “reds,” and “you are the last one to be handed the bottle”(p.37). If you give in to the taunting of your friends (“Come on, sissy [....] Who would have thought that Jackie-Boy was a big chicken! Come on, Baby Face”[p.37]), then “you’ll find that the next time drugs are offered, it’ll be a little easier to take them [.... and] soon you’ll be seriously hooked on narcotics, all because of the pressure of conformity”(p.38).
“Other harmful behaviors can also be traced to the pressure of conformity,” and Dr. Dobson traces these behaviors back to their source, usually beginning “by a ‘friend’ offering a weed to someone who has never smoked”(p.39). This book will give you the courage to stand up to any “friend” who tries to offer you a weed.

What is not in this book: Advice for children who are not normal, where normal is defined as heterosexual, Jesus-worshipping, and coming from a household with married parents and a stay-at-home mom. Worried that you can’t live up to this ideal? Don’t be. “Homosexuality is an abnormal desire that reflects deep problems, but it doesn’t happen very often, and it’s not likely to happen to you”(p.66).
Dr. Dobson also refuses to be hoodwinked by the mainstream media’s alternate explanations for drug and alcohol abuse. Kids are “tempted to take drugs or smoke or drink for the same reason you are—simply because they’re afraid to be different”(p.39), and anyone who tries to tell you that substance abuse can be caused by other factors like surviving sexual abuse, coping with parents getting divorced, having parents who beat them, dealing with being a closeted homosexual, and undiagnosed mental illnesses like chronic depression, schizophrenia, or bipolar disorder has clearly never been an adolescent.

Would you recommend this book to Jamie Lynn Spears? Maybe back when she was a Nick star, but these days, she’s a woman.

Would you recommend this book to John McCain? No, he should read "Preparing for Obsolescence." ZING!

What was interesting about this book: You will want to keep a bucket of ice water handy or be ready to take a cold shower when you encounter the steamy language he uses to start discussing “The Sex Appetite”(p.58) and how “you will be with a person of the opposite sex who will let you know that he or she will permit you to have this experience”(p.61). While colorful, this language is necessary and completely justified because “your body will begin to develop a brand new appetite when you’re between twelve and fifteen years old”(p.58). Adolescents will find that “every year as you get older, this appetite will become more and more a part of you,” and in the same way that missing breakfast will make you “plenty hungry by two o’clock in the afternoon,” this sex appetite will build within you until “this desire may lead you to marriage”(p.58).
Dr. Dobson also describes what it’s like to have a crush, which “occurs when you begin to think that one particular person is absolutely fantastic, and you fantasize about the possibility of being married to that person”(p.59), and explains that “I deal with so many Christian young people who are torn apart with guilt over masturbation; they want to stop and just can’t”(p.64).
Unfortunately, Dr. Dobson stops short in his discussions of the sex appetite by neglecting to mention issues such as sex anorexia, sex bulimia, and the dangers of death by sex starvation.

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