Book Review: Chicken Soup for the Soul: Tough Times For Teens

By Anita Matthews

Published in Parenthots, The Star on June 10, 2013 as
Stories offer comfort to teenagers

By Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and Amy Newmark
Publisher: Chicken Soup for the Soul

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Tough Times for teens

Chicken Soup For The Soul Tough Times For Teens captures 101 stories about the hardest parts of being a teenager. It is a candid display of what teenagers go through daily. The storytelling is rich and personal, peppered with heart-wrenching truth of what teenagers really go through behind the facade of pimples and puberty.

The 362-page book is a rollercoaster of emotions, ranging from delightful joy to utter grief. Anger, pride, confusion, insecurity, frustration, self-esteem issues, teen wisdom and worry jump out as I thumb through the pages. Deep down I wonder if my two teens have the same insecure thoughts of being ostracised or battle confidence or weight issues. Worse, could they be suffering from some untold, yet to be discovered, syndrome?

The book comes with an introduction by one of the editors. Amy Newmark states clearly that the book is meant for older teens as some of the content is about sexual abuse, mental illness, gender identity issues, eating disorders and untimely death.
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Archive: Flashback 1990 – 2015

This is an archive of stories by Anita Devasahayam and Julian Matthews from 1990 – 2015 in various publications including Asia Computer Weekly, AsiaBizTech, The Star, The Edge, CNet, ZDNet, Newsbytes, New Zealand Herald, Nikkei Electronics Asia, The New Paper and The Reader’s Digest.

Some selected popular stories:

Book review: The Five Love Languages of Teenagers

By Anita Matthews

Published in Parenthots, The Star on April 1, 2013 as
Learning to speak the love language of teens

By Gary Chapman
Publisher: Northfield Publishing

L-O-V-E is a four-letter word that definitely bears repeating and it is the recurring theme in Gary Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages Of Teenagers. Here, Chapman explains the different types of love and provides practical advice and sound rationale on when and how each love ought to be practised. His is the voice of experience.

Five Love Languages of Teenagers

The guidance Chapman provides is timely especially in this current era of information overload. Both parents and teenagers are inundated by information from numerous sources. Moreover, parents may not necessarily approve of the type of information (including entertainment) that their teenagers are exposed to. Instances of negative exposure on the Internet include violence, underaged sex, drugs and trash talking.

Here’s where this book is very useful.

As teenagers struggle between independence and dependence, parents can rely on the techniques and strategies that Chapman provides to guide them on how to respond the adolescent behaviour. My 16-year-old son told me the other day that the English test included questions related to an essay on adolescence. When I asked him what he understood from the essay, he said: “Parents can’t cope”.
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Book review: I’d Listen to My Parents If They’d Just Shut Up: What to Say and Not Say When Parenting Teens

By Anita Matthews

Published in Parenthots, The Star on January 7, 2013 as Learn to communicate with your teen

What to Say and Not Say When Parenting Teens
By Anthony E. Wolf, PhD
Publisher: Harper

The book’s title offered no comfort. The words “parent” and “shut up” were more than a reality check. I barely “shut up” when talking to my kids. More often than not, I overstate and overcompensate long after the kids have tuned out.

The title of Wolf’s book embossed in bright yellow on a red cover sent pangs of guilt through me. The sunshiny coloured text belied the blaring alarm bells that scream through my head with every interaction I have with my teens.

Parenting teens

Thankfully, Wolf’s book did come to the rescue. Through it, he lays the foundation of why teens behave the way they do. He provides frustrated parents solace and solutions to the messy parent-child communication style as he astutely captures nuanced conversations. Parents can begin to see a different perspective, or as in my case, come across many light bulb moments.

For one, I often forget that adolescence is a rite of passage. As the book progresses, it becomes very clear that parents can and should manage their conversations with teenagers. Parents should also be guided by a mantra not to take their teens’ whiny, crabby, snotty or angry behaviour personally.
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Book review: The Sibling Effect

By Anita Matthews

Published in Parenthots, The Star on November 12, 2012 as Learn about sibling relationships

What the Bonds Among Brothers and Sisters Reveal About Us
By Jeffrey Kluger
Publisher: Riverhead Books

This book, by Jeffrey Kluger, opens like an Alfred Hitchcock thriller where he recalls the game of how he and his brothers hid the youngest in the fuse box. With the oldest at eight and youngest at four, the older boys had no idea of the danger they posed to the youngest. The following tale is about his father breaking into the house to deliver the divorce papers to his mum. Sibling Effect

On that premise, Kluger who is a senior editor and science writer at TIME magazine, takes his readers down memory lane with anecdotes of his childhood, growing up in a household of boys, a messy divorce, the extended family and the impact of his parents’ behaviour on how he and his brothers turned out.

Kluger’s book is an informative read as he examines the relationship between siblings – the disputes, jealousies, favouritism, the birth order, extended families, separation, sex, the teen years and more. He draws on scientific research, with every other page citing a finding or expert to rationalise or perhaps demystify the mysteries of siblinghood.

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