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Teenage Wasteland by Anne Tyler

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Children that have positive relations with their guardians, have a high likelihood of disclosing information concerning their struggles with troubling issues. As a result, they would consult their parents for solutions, before the problem escalates. Additionally, such constructive parent and child relations most likely exist within families where parents depict warmth and offer support to the children. This is, however, not the case in Anne Tyler’ s short story “ Teenage Wasteland” . The teenage character, Donny, is completely unmotivated performing poorly in his academic work. When Daisy, Donny’ s concerned mother, notices the poor grades she employs a private tutor named Cal, in order to help him improve his grades (787-789).

For a responsible parent, the most logical step would have been to question Donny about his performance, in order to establish the cause of the problem and find out how she could help. Shifting parental responsibility to someone else is neither a reflection of affection nor support. Another negative relationship is that between Cal and Donny, since he acts more like a friend than an adult figure. Further, Cal does not motivate Donny to perform better or to make responsible decisions.

Because of the absence of a constructive relationship between Donny and his role models, coupled with the latter’ s failure to adhere to proper success guidelines, the teen’ s performance deteriorates further and his bad behaviour worsens. Based on research conducted by Stattin and Kerr (1072-1079) parents’ self-confidence inspires children to have higher self-esteem, since they believe that if their parents can achieve something, then they are capable of doing the same. Additionally, when parents assert themselves as firm and capable of handling situations, this also encourages children to rely entirely on them.

Clearly, this is not the case in “ Teenage Wasteland” , since Daisy lacks confidence in her parenting capabilities. This is an aspect evident not only from her act of handing over Donny to Cal, but also when she laments to the psychologist that she thinks she is to blame for Donny’ s failure.

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