The 6 Most Important Decisions You’ll Ever Make by Sean Covey
This advice book for teens comes from the author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens, and incorporates a lot of the lessons and ideas from that book (and its adult counterpart). The “6 decisions” are issues that confront young adults: school, friends, parents, sex, addictions, and self-worth. There are lots of corny jokes, cartoons, and examples. Like many self-help books, it often pretends that things are easier than they are in real life.
I wish the book were more sex-positive. Readers are flatly advised to save sex for marriage, period. I think I’ll be teaching my son a more nuanced message than that. I did appreciate that there was no overt slut-shaming or double standards in the sex chapter, at least. And I did think it was a good idea to tell teens to date people their own age, and to inform them that statistically, not everyone their age is having sex.
In the chapter on addictions, various drugs are discussed in terms of horror stories and catastrophes. It seemed like the same approach that I remembered from my 5th grade D.A.R.E. class, and, judging from my classmates’ later lives, wasn’t very effective. I don’t think kids can be scared out of doing drugs. The more extreme the horror story, and the more disproportionate the horrible result is to the first small transgression, the less kids believe it’s even true or possible. I’m not sure what would work better to persuade teens to stay away from drugs, but fear doesn’t work. I found it interesting that pornography was discussed at length as an addiction, but eating disorders, self-mutilation, and gambling, which seem much more dangerous to me, were barely mentioned.
I don’t think I’ll be using this book in my classes; I prefer the original 7 Habits book. Its approach seemed more holistic and broadly applicable, and its more vague approach to sex and drugs made it less objectionable and prudish.