Divorce and Recovery

On September 12, Monique Honoman, the author of the High Road Has less Traffic, honest advice on the path of love and divorce, was my Blog Talk Radio guest for the opening of the fall season. Monique is also the founding partner of ISHR Group, which provides global solutions in the area of leadership assessment, development and coaching. She received her B.A. from the University of Michigan, a Masters of Labor and Industrial Relations from Michigan State University, and a Juris Doctorate from Albany Law School. Since her last appearance on the show in July, several listeners commented that Monique had not presented divorce as an extremely painful, life changing experience; but rather one to go through (if you must) and come out better for it on the other side. Monique corrected this impression agreeing that indeed, there is a dark side to divorce, even for those parties who are equally interested in terminating the marriage. 

The Teenage Brain Under Construction

Adolescence is often a difficult passage for parents to navigate. Their children are developing physically, driving, becoming increasingly independent and self-sufficient,
and in general, “coming into their own.” And yet, they often exercise poor judgment and engage in reckless behavior. How do we understand this? Brain research has an explanation for it. The part of teenage brain responsible for decision making, the pre-frontal cortex, is under major construction. In fact, science now tells us that the brain doesn’t become fully developed until 25 to 27 years of age, and it can change throughout life! We as parents often aren’t aware of how this brain growth during adolescence has its impact on teenage behavior and moods. It’s not that we should “overlook” risky teenage behavior and the frequent mood swings but being knowledgeable about brain development in adolescence provides us with a compass and a better understanding of teenage behaviors.

Dr. Sheryl Feinstein, Chair of the Education Department at Augustana College in Sioux Falls, SD specializes in adolescence brain development and teenage behavior. She is the author of Secrets of the Teenage Brain 2nd Ed (2009) and my guest on Blog Talk Radio on Monday, June 12th. Dr. Feinstein emphasized that along with the massive brain reconstruction during adolescence in general, differences in what goes on in the male and female brain exist. For example, in adolescent boys, the amygdala (the emotional seat of the brain) is much larger and more active than in girls due to testosterone and its influence. In general, boys’ anger is triggered more easily and quickly. Knowing this, we can help our sons find ways to manage their outbursts and be understanding of their risky behaviors. In fact, we can use adolescence as a time to help boys to learn how to control their anger. Often, a conversation acknowledging the stress they are experiencing is “normal” and in part, a result of their brain undergoing rapid growth can be the beginning of a valuable dialogue.

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