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The 7 Best Things Smart Teens Do
Cover of The 7 Best Things Smart Teens Do
The 7 Best Things Smart Teens Do
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In The Seven Worst Things Good Parents Do, therapists John and Linda Friel gave parents an easy-to-understand guide to overcome the seven worst mistakes even good parents make while raising children. Now they've written a book for teens based on the same formula: it includes the seven worst things even smart-and outwardly successful-teens do, and shows teens how they can change these behaviors and assure their success in life as they grow towards adulthood.

This book was written expressly for teenagers as a unique roadmap into adulthood. It was designed to stimulate the brain as well as the heart because teenagers who listen to both can eventually negotiate adolescence successfully. It will appeal to teenagers who like to think, wonder, question and challenge, as well as to teenagers who feel that they haven't quite figured out this "life" thing.

The Friels show teens the seven things they need to do in order to overcome common roadblocks they face or will face. These are:

  1. Become competent-don't expect to have self-esteem without becoming competent

  2. Master your feelings-don't let your feelings run the show

  3. Break the silence-don't silently scream instead of making yourself known

  4. Get healthy power-don't avoid learning about power

  5. Face the serious stuff-don't hide the really important things you're experiencing

  6. Find an identity-don't avoid the struggle to find yourself

  7. Learn to stake out the extremes-don't live only in the extremes.


Written in clear, straightforward language and including many interesting and colorful story interludes, this book is an easy-to-use, powerful tool for all teens.

In The Seven Worst Things Good Parents Do, therapists John and Linda Friel gave parents an easy-to-understand guide to overcome the seven worst mistakes even good parents make while raising children. Now they've written a book for teens based on the same formula: it includes the seven worst things even smart-and outwardly successful-teens do, and shows teens how they can change these behaviors and assure their success in life as they grow towards adulthood.

This book was written expressly for teenagers as a unique roadmap into adulthood. It was designed to stimulate the brain as well as the heart because teenagers who listen to both can eventually negotiate adolescence successfully. It will appeal to teenagers who like to think, wonder, question and challenge, as well as to teenagers who feel that they haven't quite figured out this "life" thing.

The Friels show teens the seven things they need to do in order to overcome common roadblocks they face or will face. These are:

  1. Become competent-don't expect to have self-esteem without becoming competent

  2. Master your feelings-don't let your feelings run the show

  3. Break the silence-don't silently scream instead of making yourself known

  4. Get healthy power-don't avoid learning about power

  5. Face the serious stuff-don't hide the really important things you're experiencing

  6. Find an identity-don't avoid the struggle to find yourself

  7. Learn to stake out the extremes-don't live only in the extremes.


Written in clear, straightforward language and including many interesting and colorful story interludes, this book is an easy-to-use, powerful tool for all teens.

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  • From the book



    Part I
    The Agony and the
    Ecstasy, the Power
    and the Glory


    The Parrot, the Appalachian Science Student, the Suburban Lawyer, the Media Rep, the Murderers and the Vandal, and the Grace in South Central L.A.

    No plan is perfect. At any time we may have to abandon ship and jump into the unknown.
    ùJoan Borysenko, A Woman's Journey to God: Finding the Feminine Path, 1999

    Out of Tension and Conflict, Respect

    The Parrot and the Appalachian Science Student


    A young man gets on a crosstown bus. He has spiked, multicolored hair that's green, purple and orange. His clothes are a tattered mix of leather rags. His legs are bare, and he's without shoes. His entire face and body are riddled with pierced jewelry, and his earrings are big, bright feathers. He sits down in the only vacant seat, directly across from an old man who just glares at him for the next ten miles. Finally, the young man becomes self-conscious and barks at the old man, "What are you looking at! Didn't you ever do anything wild when you were young?" Without missing a beat, the old man replies, "Yeah. Back when I was young and in the Navy, I got drunk in Singapore and had sex with a parrot. I thought maybe you were my son."

    This joke has been circulating on the Internet for years, and is, in fact, so old and so corny that we should be embarrassed to pass it on to you. We aren't, however, because on further reflection it becomes obvious that we could design an entire university course based on sorting out the infinite levels of developmental and family dynamics contained within this fascinating little story.

    Are there universal themes contained in this tale? Do all older adults feel this way about younger adults? Could there be a faint hint of warmth and playfulness in the old man's comment? If the younger man chooses to respond to the old man's sarcastic comment as if it might contain bits of warmth rather than just hostility, could the two men develop a friendship? Could their balanced confrontationùtheir squaring off as they didùallow them to attain a level of intimacy that is unimaginable had both of them sat silently in discomfort and contempt for each other? How is this scenario nearly identical to the poignant 1950s dynamic between Homer Hickam Jr. and his West Virginia coal-mining father in the autobiographical film October Sky? In that movie, the father remained angry, disappointed and distant for almost too long as his high school son, with equal stubbornness, pursued his seemingly impossible dream of building a successful model rocket and qualifying for the national science fair. Is there wisdom in humor, or only anger and contempt? Is strong conflict a key ingredient to the kind of deep relationships for which we all long?

    Well, as we just said, it would be a piece of cake to design an entire university course around the themes and dynamics contained within this corny tale.



    The Suburban Lawyer

    "I think there ought to be a place to send kids when they're thirteenùa holding camp or workhouse of some sortùand then when they're twenty, they can come home." Thus spoke a successful suburban attorney who happened to be the next-door neighbor of one set of our parents a few decades ago. Was it angry and cruel? Judging from the care that he had for his teenage daughters, from their inner balance, and from the twinkle in his eye that accompanied the very real exasperation in his voice, we think not. Living in paradox and loving with depth go together, an idea that Confucius succinctly captured when he said, "Only the truly kind person knows how to love and how to...

About the Author-
  • John Friel, Ph.D., and Linda Friel, M.A., are full-time practicing psychologists in the Minneapolis/St. Paul suburbs where they offer individual, couple and family therapy, and lead ongoing men's and women's therapy groups. They also conduct the three-and-a-half day Clearlife/Lifeworks Clinic, a gentle process to help people replace old patterns of living with more effective ones, in several U.S. cities. They are internationally recognized speakers and trainers, and are the bestselling authors of Adult Children: The Secrets of Dysfunctional Families, An Adult Child's Guide to What's Normal, The Grown-Up Man, Rescuing Your Spirit, and The Soul of Adulthood.
Reviews-
  • School Library Journal

    December 1, 2000
    Gr 7 Up-Although this book contains a wealth of information and advice, it is not well organized. The first chapter leaves readers wondering when the authors are ever going to get to the point as they ramble on with anecdotes, jokes, and stories about criminals or people who are angry or never grew up. They do get there in Part II, where they finally identify the seven "things": including mastering feelings, learning how to make things happen, and finding an identity. All are worthy life skills, and the authors handle them well, generally speaking. However, they have opted for a kind of chattiness that can be distracting, and that at times is just plain silly (as in the parable of the two dogs, Sam and Abby, who not only know how to operate a laptop, but also hold philosophical discussions with one another). Nevertheless, the information is worthwhile, and if teens are motivated to read it, they just might find what they need to know to ease their life's journey.-Marilyn Heath, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City

    Copyright 2000 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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The 7 Best Things Smart Teens Do
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