Your life with a 13-year-old (5×8 – 1/5/12)

In search of the rational argument, the power of principles, Morris v. Blyleven, Jablonski’s future, and scenes from the sidewalk superintendent.


I’m endlessly fascinated by scientific research and its ability, in particular, to make parents feel bad about the way they get through the day. The latest, chronicled by National Public Radio, comes from the University of West Virginia, which has released research on how to train your spawn on arguing “calmly and rationally.” Here’s the way they determined this:

In Allen’s study, 157 13-year-olds were videotaped describing their biggest disagreement with their parents. The most common arguments were over grades, chores, money and friends. The tape was then played for both parent and teen.

“Parents reacted in a whole variety of ways. Some of them laughed uncomfortably; some rolled their eyes; and a number of them dove right in and said, ‘OK, let’s talk about this,'” he says.

What parent would have a typical argument with a 13-year-old knowing the cameras were running?

But let’s get right to the guilt trip…

Bottom line: Effective arguing acted as something of an inoculation against negative peer pressure. Kids who felt confident to express themselves to their parents also felt confident being honest with their friends.

So, ironically the best thing parents can do is help their teenager argue more effectively. For this, Allen offers one word: listen.

This is the researchers’ reality…

Acceptable argument might go something like this: ‘How about if my curfew’s a half hour later but I agree that I’ll text you or I’ll agree that I’ll stay in certain places and you’ll know where I’ll be; or how about I prove to you I can handle it for three weeks before we make a final decision about it.”

In other words: Your kid has a better chance of avoiding prison time, if he’s Wally and Theodore Cleaver.

Here’s the entire story. Listen and then share your experiences on how you got your 13-year-old to be rational.

Related (sort of): A nearly 16-pound baby has arrived in Duluth.

More research: Women’s sexual satisfaction may improve with age (Washington Post)


Be sure to read Eric Ringham’s post/commentary about Charles W. Bailey, the former editor of the Minneapolis Tribune who died Tuesday in a New Jersey nursing home. “He could wear a bow tie and make it work,” writes Ringham, which — if you know people who try to pull off the bow-tie look — tells you everything you need to know. But Ringham goes deep into the best part of being an old newspaper guy — telling old-newspaper-guy stories.

Once during the news huddle he asked why the Tribune was giving so much attention to a Lutheran convention. One of the editors pointed out that Minnesota had substantial numbers of Lutherans. Chuck replied, “No, Episcopalians are substantial. Lutherans are merely numerous.”

The New York Times published its obituary of Bailey this morning.

In 1982, The Tribune, a morning paper, merged with its afternoon sister, The Minneapolis Star. Though Mr. Bailey had planned to step down at the end of that year and resume writing from Washington, his hand was forced in October when the Cowles Media Company said it would cut 75 employees, including 28 from the news staff, more than 10 percent of its total.

Mr. Bailey quit. “This is a very serious mistake and one that will have grave consequences for the newspaper,” he said in a statement that he read to his colleagues.

The world is woefully short of people with such principles.


The Hall of Fame results will be announced next week. Last year, former Minnesota Twin Bert Blyleven made it in. This year, is it Jack Morris’ turn? Dave Studeman of Hardball Times analyzes the notion that statistics say if one Twins’ broadcaster made it, the other one should, too.

Some people then say, “Fine, but Morris was a winner.” It’s true that, statistically, Morris had a better winning percentage than Blyleven. Morris won 254 games and lost 186 for a winning percentage of .577, while Blyleven won 287 games and lost 250 for a winning percentage of .534. The implication is that Morris was a “winner,” and Blyleven wasn’t. This perception is enhanced by Morris’ fantastic performance in the seventh game of the 1991 World Series.

This is ridiculous. Minnesota in the early 1970s (Blyleven’s prime) was a .500 team. Detroit in the early 1980s (Morris’ prime) was a .540 team (I’m just guesstimating here, but I don’t think I’m off by much). Morris typically pitched for much stronger offenses than Blyleven did. The difference in their win/loss records has everything to do with context and nothing to do with pitching performance.


Jack Jablonski, the Benilde-St. Margaret sophomore who was injured in a hockey game last week, is never going to walk again, his doctors have determined. His family posted this update on the young man’s Caring Bridge site:

It is with a heavy heart that we write this entry tonight. Jack’s surgery today to fuse his vertebrae was a success, but it also confirmed that his injury was horrific.

Jack has limited mobility and no movement in his lower body. As we feared, he will not be able to walk or skate. This news is devastating to Jack and everyone who loves him. Our hope and dream is that he will be able to prove this prognosis wrong.

Our priority is to help Jack accept and transition into his new life, a life that we did not plan, but one that we have to embrace. We have a mountain to climb, but with your support, we know that Jack’s youth, strength and determination will help him make remarkable strides.

It’s been a difficult day, but now we know what lies ahead. Words cannot express our gratitude for the global support that Jack has received. Keep your thoughts and prayers coming.

In Nevada, Stephen Dorsey is wondering whether and/or when he should contact Jablonski. Almost 30 years ago, he was injured and paralyzed in a high school hockey game in Moorhead. He’s earned two degrees, has a 20-year-old daughter who is a pre-med student, and he’s enjoying his life with wife Michelle, the Fargo Forum reports.

More health: British scientist Stephen Hawking turns 70. He has left one mystery unsolved: How he has managed to survive so long with such a crippling disease?


Some months ago in this space, I noted that people don’t stop to watch construction much anymore. The scene was the new transit hub in Saint Paul for the light-rail system which will start running in 2012. It turns out someone was. The Pioneer Press’ Ben Garvin pointed his camera out the office window and captured the entire process.

Here’s what I find most interesting about construction projects: Somewhere in there, there’s a person who makes sure that a component being worked on, comes together at exactly the right point with a component that someone else is working on. Things have to meet perfectly; they can’t be 1/4″ or 1″ off. It’s an engineering marvel to the “sidewalk superintendent.”

Bonus I: You can set your calendar by the beginning of the year. You can set your watch by the beginning of complaints about newbies at the gym.

And that is the problem. These short-timers are the fitness equivalent of office temps – they’re not going to last, and the regulars know it. That perhaps justified lack of respect makes having to wait for equipment and having to wade through the newbies less tolerable. At the least, this makes me a gym snob. (Shutout to Fury for coming up with that label.) At the worst, it makes me a bad person.

Bonus II: A “church” whose central tenet is the right to file-share has been formally recognized by the Swedish government.


The Mall of America, which turns 20 this year, has been in the news lately due to disruptive young people and the pending loss of Bloomingdale’s, one of its original anchor tenants. Today’s Question: After 20 years, what do you think of the Mall of America?


I’ll have another installment of “The People You Should Meet” later today.

Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: There has been some mixed news about the housing industry lately. By the end of 2011 new housing starts were up and home buying had increased slightly, but -inventory was down and prices continued to be at all time lows. How can we sum up the year in housing and what can we look for in 2012?

Second hour: Willpower: What can we do to increase self control?

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Former GOP Senate Minority Leader Duane Benson, former DFL Senate Majority Leader Roger Moe, former GOP Speaker of the House Dave Jennings and former Finance Commissioner Pam Wheelock

Second hour: Longtime PBS moderator Jim Lehrer, speaking at the Commonwealth Club of California about the history of presidential debates.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: The new laws of 2012.

Second hour: The middle years. From understanding death to controlling impulses.

  • Rheaah


    Summary: Effective Arguing

    Originating from NPR

    Allen: Good

    Dutch and Jews: Good

    Better yet.

    Send them to acting school, or have them join theater so that they can learn effective manipulatiion; the soup du jour/status quo of our society and how it works.

    Afterall, all the world’s a stage isn’t it?

  • It’s not exactly watching from the sidewalk, but my coworkers have been very interested in the construction of the Radisson hotel taking place at the Mall of America (across the street from our building).

    There have been many days people have gathered to watch cranes being extended, port-a-potties moved via crane and whatever else is going on over there.

  • Jamie

    Many of my colleagues have been watching the light-rail destruction and construction from the windows of our break rooms.

    Re: I guess I am or was a gym snob. I work out at home now, but back when I belonged to the Y, we regulars hated New-Year-resolution time. The worst part was the crowded locker room. We were so relieved when the third week of January came around and the newbies started to go away.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Re: Life With a 13 Year Old –

    My two little darlings are still pre-teens. I’m fattening ’em up in hope of getting a good price before they reach adolescence.

  • Rheaah

    Yah, Jim,

    Who needs to know how to exercisse effective argument when them youngins’ are far better marketable by teaching them good vittal cookin, frock wearin’, mitten knitten’ and utter submissivity.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Rheaah – I decided some time ago not to argue with my kids. Not because I’m an autocrat, but because they’re both much smarter than I am, and my fragile ego could no longer withstand the constant humiliation.