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Adoescence Case

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Case Study 1 of 4: Adoescence

Mark is a 16 yr old Caucasian student in Grade 10 at an inner city school. He lives with his mother and father and older brother. Mark has attended the local public schools since kindergarten and until 8th grade he was an above-average student who frequently made honour roll. Mark's father, Doug, commutes to his job as a mechanic and in recent years has increased his hours at the office as his company downsized and shifted responsibility to the remaining employees. His mother, Joanne, works as a secretary at a local real estate agency. Mark's brother Dave is in Grade 12, is an excellent student who is active in intramural sports, especially soccer and baseball.

During his middle school years, Mark had a strong interest in camping and survival skills and developed these interests through scouting. Several of Mark's friends in the troop left scouting in the 7th grade and began spending more time hanging out with girlfriends and playing sports. Mark continued scouting until 8th grade, but teasing from his friends became unbearable, and he finally gave it up. Mark was shy with girls and not particularly interested in sports, so he was left with little in common with his middle school friends. At the same time, his grades began to drop.

When Mark's parents expressed concern about his poor grades, he told them that his teachers were jerks and his classes were boring. Although Doug and Joanne tried to encourage him to study more and to continue scouting or to try sports, Mark would generally react angrily and his parents would back off in order to not upset him further. By 9th grade he was spending more and more time alone, playing video games and watching television in his room. When Mark turned 16, he begged for a car and his parents agreed. Because they were so busy, Doug and Joanne thought it would be helpful to give Mark more independence and they hoped it would increase his social acceptance. Mark was one of the first students in his class to turn 16, and he found that his old friends' interest in him was piqued when he began driving to school in his new car.

Mark began to hang out again with his old friends, and began smoking, drinking and experimenting with drugs. His grades slipped further, although with almost no effort he as able to maintain a C average. Once again his parents became concerned about his grades, particularly because college loomed. They even threatened to remove the television from his room, but as usual, they backed down when confronted by his anger. Doug and Joanne were also loath to rock the boat when Mark finally seemed to be enjoying his social life. He was no longer moping around the house, watching TV and worrying his parents.

When Mark asked to be allowed to drive his friends to a concert in a nearby city, with plans to spend the weekend at the home of his friend's uncle, his parents disagreed about how to handle his request. Joanne was afraid of giving him so much freedom and worried about the safety of the group. Doug, remembering how restrictive his own parents had been, argued that "you're only young once" and that "you have to hope that what you've taught them up to now will stick because that's all you can do. By 16, kids are really on their own."

The weekend trip was a disaster. After the concert, the group partied at the uncle's home, without adult supervision. Neighbours called the police about the noise. Parents were notified after the police found evidence of underage drinking. Mark persuaded his parents that he did not know the uncle would be away and that he had no control over his friends' drinking. Doug and Joanne gave Mark the benefit of the doubt, but a month later, Joanne found a bottle of vodka and bag of marijuana in Mark's room. Both parents realized that they needed to seek help.


1. Consider the developmental path that Mark has followed. Describe the elements that have been influential in shaping this adolescent's experience.

2. Describe and comment on the parenting style used by Doug and Joanne. Evaluate the parent's approach throughout his early adolescence and suggest ways they might have responded differently.

3. What role could the school have played in modifying the course of Mark's development?

4. What specific suggestions for treatment might you make for Mark and his family?

Case Study 2 of 4: Young Adulthood

Tayib, who is 29 yrs old, works as a paralegal in a public defender's office. His parents came to Canada from India before he was born. Tayib's extended family in India are highly educated people and his parents encouraged him to get a good education as well. Although he considered going to law school, Tayib never felt confident enough to pursue this goal. In his current place of employment, many co-workers rely on his conscientiousness. He feels that others, including his superiors, often take advantage of him by giving him the most difficult cases to sort out and the shortest deadlines for getting them done. He was recently passed over for a promotion by his boss who decided to fill the higher level post by hiring someone from outside the department. He feels unsatisfied in his position, but he thinks that his chances for advancement may be best if he remains where he is. His parents encourage him to find a position with more prestige and a better income.

Tayib has been dating Rachel, a 27-year old Caucasian woman with a young son, for the past six months. Rachel works as a public relations executive in one of the corporate offices in the city. Rachel and her son, Luke, share an apartment with one of Rachel's girlfriends. This has been her living arrangement since the break-up of her relationship with Luke's father, Kevin, three years ago. The couple were never married, a factor that led to strained relationships with her own mother and father.

Tayib and Rachel are both interested in finding someone with whom they can have a serious relationship. Lately, however, their relationship has not been going as smoothly as it did in the beginning. As Luke's 4th birthday approached, Rachel wanted to plan a celebration for him. Tayib had already taken Luke and Rachel to an amusement park as a birthday present for the youngster. Rachel decided to have a special birthday dinner for Luke and invited her parents and Tayib. Tayib, in the midst of an important project at work, declined the invitation.

Rachel feels totally rejected by his refusal to attend the dinner. She cannot understand why she and Luke mean so little to Tayib. She believes that she



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