,by J. DOMINIAN
Relationships in Adolescence by J. C. Coleman (Routledge and Kegan Paul £4,75)
Adolescence is a period in human development which has received greater prominence than any other in the post-war period. Society has thought fit to confer adult status through the right to vote, marry, hold property, and so on, at the age of 18 rather than at 21.
Adolescents have been at the 'centre of much of the controversy regarding independent behaviour, rebellion against authority, the use of drugs and earlier experimentation with sex.
The headlines have been captured by these features but little detailed knowledge of the inner life of the adolescent has been available, and both parents and teachers have to rely on their own experience arising from their contact with a particular group of young people. In this book the author reviews most effectively the available psychological research on adolescence and shows that there are predominantly two views.
The older of the two sees this period as a stormy one with the young person being inevitably caught in a struggle of eman
cipation anci the arrivalof a separate sense of selfhood. The other and more recent view sees adolescence as being almost totally free of these tensions.
In this study, which involved 347 boys and 392 girls, the author tends towards the conclusion that adolescence is a single stage of development which involves, however, a number of separate patterns of relationships capable. of turbulence but need not necessarily involve this.
On the whole boys and girls behave similarly in the unfolding of their personality in that both have to negotiate gradual separation from parents, involvement with friends and peers and negotiation of sexual relationships; but the quality of these experiences varies.
Conflict with parents starts and ends earlier with girls than boys, and what is more the girls are far more concerned with the ability to be themselves, to be the person they wish to become, uninfluenced by parents, whereas the boys are more overtly concerned with independence of action.
Boys are involved in conflict with authority: girls are afraid of being coerced. As far as friendships and peer groups are concerned, girls are much more concerned with rejection from either and are much more troubled with problems of competition and jealousy within the group situation.
Boys are seeking the strength of the group, and if someone is rejected their sympathy, unlike that of the girls, is with the group, not the individual. Finally, girls begin to mature sexually earlier than boys, both go through a period of anxiety and uncertainty in middle adolescence (14 to 16) and then settle down in more permanent friendships in late adolescence.
These results show that -adolescence is a lengthy process, involving different patterns of changing relationships in which the girls are far more concerned with the quality of their inner experiences than the boys, who arc struggling to discover and assert their external position of strength and status.
Both the review of previous work and the exemplary clarity of the research findings makes this an interesting and important book for those whose professional work brings them into contact with this particular phase of human growth.
QUALITY WITHOUT QUANTITY
by J. H. BARNES Minsteracres by Kevin Nichols (Catholic Education Council 10p) Fr Kevin Nichols has produced a small volume of poetry which, because of its smallness, will be treated by some as insignificant. Those who fall into this trap will have made a very grave mistake.
They will have mistaken quantity for quality, and although there is no great quantity in this collection, there is considerable quality. My favourite until I read "Adjectives" was "Minsteracres", which seems to me to say more about 300 years of English Catholic history than all the traditionalistic political; movements of the Church.
"Adjectives" is a poem about more than adjectives, using the need for discipline in language as an illustration of the need for discipline in everyday life.