Dear Dr. Wes: Real Life Advice for Teens
About the Book
Good advice for teenagers. Everyone has some, or thinks they do. Friends, family, the Internet. The problem is that for advice to be really good, it must be equal parts empathy and wisdom. To make sense of your world, the giver must feel things the way you feel them and see things the way you see them, before offering up an opinion.
You have to be smart about where you get your advice, because everyone has an angle. Some of those angles are legit. Your parents have a major investment in your going to college and delaying pregnancy. So, try and forgive them if they seem to push those ideas pretty hard. They may even fear that an unclean room will lead you to a life of filthy apartments and lost marriages. Who knows? It could happen.
The advice in this book is unusual because the folks pushing it aren’t hip middle-aged experts talking to you in what they imagine to be cool teen voices that they vaguely remember from 1977. Well, okay…one of us is. I’m a board certified family psychologist. But the other eight co-authors are really sharp teenagers, or were at the time they wrote for Double Take, a weekly advice column that has been published in the Lawrence Journal World since 2004. Each won a contest to work for a year on Double Take. You can learn how each author was selected by reading our Welcome page. Most of these columns were written in response to letters, many submitted by teenagers. The rest discussed topics we selected from current events and trends affecting teens.
Double Take and this book are frank, honest, and sometimes blunt. We discuss sex, contraception, pregnancy, sexual identity, cutting, falling in love, breaking up, finding new friends and treating the ones you have ethically, divorce, marriage, college, suicide, foster care, school, fear and hope, and a bunch of other issues you get up and face every morning. I know this because I’ve faced them too, over nineteen years and thousands of hours working with teens.
You can read this book cover-to-cover and take careful notes if you want, then pass it on to your friends. Or use it as a reference book. We’ve set up the chapters and column titles to help you find what you need when dealing with your most recent crisis de jour. Either way you use it, by the time you’re out of your freshman year of college, I bet you’ll have found your way through just about every topic in this book, and most of those in the other book, too. If we’ve missed something, email us and we’ll answer your question in the column.
As I was doing final edits on this book, I still found myself laughing on one page and near tears on the next. But, more than anything, I was reminded yet again of just how smart teenagers are and how smart you have to be to get through this big, complex world we’ve left for you.
So here’s my first piece of hip, wise, empathic advice: As you cross the bridge to adulthood, never forget that your ultimate goal is to become who you are.
We all hope the advice in this book will help.
- Wes Crenshaw, PhD ABPP, firstname.lastname@example.org