Speaking of maladaptive responses to children and adolescents in distress, let’s think for a moment about Danger Signs listicles like this one:
10 Things Every Parent Should Watch Out For
- New, different, friends
- Changes in eating or sleeping patterns
- Weight gain or loss
- Lower achievement in school
- Disinterest in favorite activities
- Changes in dress style
- Changes in musical taste
- Avoiding eye contact
- Spending large amounts of time alone behind closed doors
Sorry, but with the exception of radical weight gains or losses, and precipitous drops in school achievement, these changes are so common in adolescence as to be normal. Can such factors signal possible trouble? If they all show up in a cluster, cloaked in mystery…perhaps. But they might just as well hint at the discovery of skating or basketball or country music.
Look, I’m as concerned about the country music problem as the next guy, but I’m sure gonna try to no panic if my kid comes home wearing Luke Bryan gear. There could be a perfectly innocent explanation. Like, “The dog ate my Arcade Fire shirt!” If it’s obscene, we’ll talk, but I’ll be danged if I’m gonna start a world war over a stupid T-shirt, no matter how stupid I think the shirt is.
Of course I’m sad when parents miss clear signs of trouble. I know parents who wish to God they’d paid attention to clouds gathering before the storm. I also know parents who drove their children into the cold by seeking to control every little thing.
 Seriously, if this listicle shows up as if it were a real thing, I’m pretty sure my head will explode.