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  Important points about adolescents, from textbooks and beyond.
  • Parents have more of an impact on adolescents, and peers less of an impact, than most people think. While adolescents do follow their peers in the more visible areas of clothing and dress style, they are more likely to turn to their parents for advice in such areas as choice of college, careers, etc.
  • Your textbook says that youth who feel their parents do not allow them enough "space" are more likely to rely on peers for advice. This makes it sound like loosening up on your child is the correct tactic to take. Unfortunately, it is not that simple. In the next line the author comments that "behavioral undercontrol" is also related to problems. In other words, do not allow your child to stay out all hours and do what he or she likes. Bandura found that peer influence was greatest when parents had abdicated their responsibility - in families with what would be categorized as "permissive indifferent" or "permissive indulgent". It is true that young people need guidance, and they are more likely to get it from their peers if they do not get it from their parents.
  • Adolescents do NOT necessarily become less close to their parents in the process of becoming adults. If you think about it, it makes a lot of sense that, if you have someone you can count on to support you no matter what (i.e., your family) it is easier to go out in the world and try some options as far as careers, different groups of friends, moving to a new town to go to college, etc. You know that, if you get in over your head, you always have your family to fall back on for support and advice.


? ? Questions for you to think about??

Educational Attainment in North Dakota of  
Native American, Spirit Lake Nation and White Populations

Educational Attainment

Native American

Spirit Lake


S.L.: White Ratio
High School 64% 38%  77% 2: 1
College 8% 3% 18% 6:1
Graduate/Professional 1.4% 0.6% 4.6% 8:1

 The data above are from the 1990 census.

I have often wondered how the dropout rate on the reservation affects the NEXT generation. I think about this a lot these days because my oldest daughter is going away to college in a year, and even my 13-year-old, who is studying for her high school exams, is starting to think about her SATs. The kinds of questions they ask are
"What if I don't know what I want to major in?"
"How did you decide on a major?"
"Should I go to the best college I can get into even if it doesn't have the major I want?"
"What are the differences between public and private universities?"
"Do you think I should join a sorority?"
"What math classes will I probably have to take if I am a journalism major" and a million others. I think that having two parents in the house, and a bunch of other relatives, who already went to college and graduated makes it less scary, for at least two reasons. First, they know more about what to expect, what kinds of courses they will have, what they will be expected to know when they get to college, even what it is like to live in a dorm. Second, they have a very personal model in front of them of someone who has done it, that is, gone to college and graduated. Having many people around you who have succeeded at something gives you the confidence that you can, too. After all, if your parents, who are totally uncool and don't know much could do it, how hard could it be?

QUESTION # 1: How do you think the lack of immediate family members who have completed college affects adolescents on the reservation? What was the process of deciding on a future, choosing whether to go to college and which college, like when you were an adolescent? What is it like now?

The textbook states that adolescent boys gain power in the family, and, by the end of adolescence, are somewhere in the hierarchy above the mother and below the father. Personally, I found this statement quite shocking (even if it might be true). I also was a little concerned by Gilligan's statement that girls are socialized in a way which is not very compatible with success in most occupations, e.g, be nice, don't be bossy.

QUESTION #2: Do you think girls on the reservation experience adolescence differently than boys? In what ways? Do you agree with Gilligan that, during adolescence, girls' options are restricted? Keep in mind that they may face pressure from their peers, both girls and boys, to behave certain ways, as well as pressure from parents. Give some examples which either support or contradict Gilligan's assertion.

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