Wes: Double Take has been in print weekly for 12 years. In October 2004, I’d just published my first book and was browsing the magazine stand at Borders Bookstore looking for magazines on which to build a platform for my next one — a parenting manual. This was before I realized the implausibility of writing any such thing. Every kid really deserves his or her own manual, the one parents write daily and finish just as they send teens into the world, realizing that one only masters a craft at the point it’s finished.
At Borders I found eight or 10 glossy publications on parenting babies and none on teens. Apparently babies were difficult to parent and teens were a breeze. Out of a discussion with a few high school students, the idea for Double Take was born — advice for both parents and teens, coauthored with a real live high school senior. Our goal was to start dialog between parents and kids by giving them a lot to talk about. And we did.
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Much has changed in the last 12 years, Borders for one. It’s long gone, one of many victims of technology; what Tom Friedman referred to as the world “flattening” and opening up production and distribution to a broad array of entrepreneurs. Sexuality was a difficult topic for parents and society back in 2004. Our sole focus was on trying to cajole kids into “saying no” to sexual expression, which didn’t work too well. As for technology, back then we used AOL Instant Messenger. There was no Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Americans received more phone calls per months than texts. Cameras used film. And I am now the parent of teenagers.
Though Double Take often predicted what was going to happen tomorrow in teen culture, what we did not predict only became apparent after several years: Most important social trends are driven by youth. Teens and young adults make the weather in our world and thus Double Take has reflected more than a teen/parent dialog. It’s documented the nuts and bolts of major cultural rifts and shifts.
All good things must end they say, and in August, we’ll publish our last Double Take column. Each August our teen author moves on to his or her next stage in life, college. This fall, I’ll be doing likewise by coauthoring a new monthly column in Your Teen Magazine. We’ll have more to say about that as our final column draws near, so for now enjoy what Gabe and I have to offer and keep an eye out, as we do, for what’s coming next.
Gabe: I first understood Double Take in my sophomore year. I mean, yeah I’d skimmed the column or two over the years, but I really didn’t consider what it meant until my Journalism teacher mentioned the annual contest at the end of class one day. I didn’t enter the running that year, but one of my friends did. She got into the interview process but didn’t win. Kyra Haas did. However, that introduction to the column encouraged me to read it every week, which gave me insight into many issues I hadn’t faced, and a different angle on ones that I had. When the contest came in my junior year I asked my journalism teacher to sign me up. I had no expectation of winning, but saw no risk in trying. I was honored to get an interview, and dumbfounded when I became co-author.
I don’t really have a concrete reason why I wanted to write for Double Take. I know I wanted my opinions heard and to be challenged. But the greatest benefits I’ve received over the past nine months were those I hadn’t searched for. It’s safe to say I’ve marginally improved as a writer by sheer necessity. More importantly, I’ve grown and challenged my beliefs. Often my stance at the time of publication is different than the one I had when I got the prompt the week before.
That’s a benefit I hope I’ve shared with readers; to make you reconsider what you believe and what you think. Over the past 12 co-authors the goal of Double Take has been to answer the tough questions teens and parents face, from sexting to online safety to depression to relationship troubles. It’s been good to have perspective from both youth and an adult and I’ll keep offering mine over the next three months.
— Wes Crenshaw, Ph.D., ABPP, is author of “I Always Want to Be Where I’m Not: Successful Living with ADD & ADHD.” Learn about his writing and practice at dr-wes.com. Gabe Magee is a Bishop Seabury Academy senior. Send your confidential 200-word question to email@example.com. Double Take opinions and advice are not a substitute for psychological services.