Please enable JavaScript in your browser to experience all the custom features of our site.

Mr. Harry Skydell, Chairman
Mr. Mark Karasick, Vice Chairman
Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, Director
Rabbi Avrohom M. Gluck, Director of Operations
The first 1000 members will have a chance to win a
16 GB
with Rabbi Horowitz audio

Membership Benefits:

  • Save articles to your favorites folder.
  • Save and print selected articles in a PDF journal.
  • Receive emails containing the latest comments on your favorite articles.
  • Mark articles as "READ".
  • More member features coming soon...

Raffle Rules:

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. To enter, complete the signup form and join as a member. Incomplete entries will be disqualified. All entries shall become the property of CJFL. CJFL is not responsible for lost, misdirected or delayed entries.

The contest is open to the general public. Members need to be at least 18 years old. Identification must be produced on request. Employees of CJFL, its raffle sponsor, advertising and promotional agencies and their respective affiliates and associates and such employees' immediate family members and persons with whom such employees are domiciled are excluded from this raffle. ALL PREVIOUSLY REGISTERED MEMBERS WILL BE AUTOMATICALLY ENTERED INTO THIS RAFFLE. The prize is not redeemable in cash and must be accepted as awarded. Decisions of the raffle judges are final - no substitutions will be available. By claiming the prize, the winner authorizes the use, without additional compensation of his or her name and/or likeness (first initial and last name) and municipality of residence for promotion and/or advertising purposes in any manner and in any medium (including without limitation, radio broadcasts, newspapers and other publications and in television or film releases, slides, videotape, distribution over the internet and picture date storage) which CJFL may deem appropriate. In accepting the prize, the winner, acknowledges that CJFL may not be held liable for any loss, damages or injury associated with accepting or using this prize. CJFL retains the rights, in its absolute and sole discretion, to make substitutions of equivalent kind or approximate value in the event of the unavailability of any prize or component of the prize for any reason whatsoever. This contest is subject to all federal, provincial and municipal laws. CJFL reserves the right to withdraw or terminate this raffle at any time without prior notice. One entry per person.

Teen Sturm und Drang (Storm and Stress)
by Rabbi Yakov Horowitz

  Rated by 4 users   |   Viewed 25705 times since 11/22/06   |   5 Comments
Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size    [ Change Font Size ] Email This Article to a Friend


There is a longstanding and ongoing debate among social scientists on the subject of “nature versus nurture” – whether our personalities, actions and life choices are impacted more by “nature” (our genes) or “nurture” (the way we are raised and the life experiences we have).

It stands to reason, therefore, that these two schools of thought would weigh in on the subject of teenagers. This vigorous debate has significant ramifications for how we view – and raise – our adolescent children.


The “Sturm und Drang' theory of adolescence basically maintains that adolescence is an unavoidable, stormy period in the life of young adults – along the lines of the “temporary insanity” concept to which I made reference in my previous column.

According to this line of reasoning, teenagers are unpredictable time bombs; moody, anxious and troubled - driven by raging hormones. (“Sturm und Drang' is German for “storm and stress.” The term was coined in the 1700’s in matters unrelated to teen years, but became popular in the early 20th Century by some psychologists to describe the teenage phase.)

The downside to this view is that there seems to be little that parents and society can do to rein in teenagers other than to exercise damage control.


In 1925, Margaret Mead journeyed to the South Pacific territory of American Samoa. She sought to discover whether adolescence was a universally traumatic and stressful time due to biological factors or whether the experience of adolescence depended on one's cultural upbringing. She observed that adolescence was not a stressful time at all for girls in Samoa.

After spending about nine months observing and interviewing Samoans, as well as administering psychological tests, Mead concluded that Samoans did not have adolescent stress since their cultural patterns were very different from those in the United States. Her findings were published in Coming of Age in Samoa (1928), a vivid, descriptive account of Samoan adolescent life that became tremendously popular.

She argued that, living in a more primitive culture, Samoan adolescent girls had little in the way of transition between childhood years and adult life and its responsibilities. Teenage girls (and boys) immediately and seamlessly assumed adult chores and shared responsibilities. They enjoyed the fulfillment of hunting/gathering and contributing to help put food on the tables of their families. She claimed that this level of teenage participation and responsibility was a direct factor in the successful acclimation of adolescents in Samoan society. According to this second view, adolescence is a painful reality that comes into play only when there is significant discontinuity.


We all remember hearing from our parents and grandparents how, “When we were growing up, teenagers were more respectful, and helped more at home.”

Well, aside from the fact that there has been a significant breakdown in the social fabric of society over the past few decades, it would seem that there has been enormous erosion in the level of responsibility that teens have towards their families over the past three generations.

In pre-war European life, there was very little discontinuity. The vast majority of boys, even in charedi homes, began to work and contribute to their impoverished families almost immediately after bar mitzvah. They joined the work force and worked alongside adults, and were probably better suited for strenuous physical labor than their older co-workers. Only a small percentage of mitzuyanim (outstanding talmidim) continued in full time learning. Girls worked alongside their mothers in the never-ending chores needed to maintain their homes.

So, when our parents told us that:

• Teenagers were more respectful, and

• Helped more at home

They not only were right, but there may be a significant correlation between these two comments.

While I am certainly not recommending sending thirteen-year-olds to work, it would stand to reason that giving our kids more responsibility and participation in our home life will lead to greater respect and less teenage “Sturm und Drang.'

© 2005 Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, all rights reserved

To sign up for Rabbi Horowitz’s weekly emails, please click here.

Reader's Comments:      Rating & Comments Policy      Rate & Write a Comment!
 Average Rating:              Rated by 4 users    (5 comments)
Subscribe to this Article
(by subscribing you will receive email notification
when new comments are posted)
There are no comments yet. Click above to write the first comment.
Dear Readers:

Please visit our Parenting Resource listing to learn about agencies and services that you can make use of. If you know of an agency that can be of assistance to others, kindly drop an email to our site administrator at and pass along the information to him.

I ask that you please consider supporting the work we are doing to improve the lives of our children. Click on these links to learn more about our teen and parent mentoring program that serves hundreds of teens and their families, or our KESHER program, now in 20 schools in 4 states. Your financial support can allow us to expand these services and help more children.

If you believe in the governing principles of this website – to help effect positive change through the candid discussions of the real issues we collectively face, please consider becoming a daily, weekly or monthly sponsor of this website and help defray the costs of it’s maintenance.

Working with Families and Educators on Behalf of our Children

This site is managed by The Center for Jewish Family Life, Inc., 56 Briarcliff Drive, Monsey, NY 10952
Project Y.E.S. was founded by Agudath Israel of America
The Center for Jewish Family Life/Project YES - 56 Briarcliff Drive, Monsey, NY 10952 (845) 352-7100 ext. 114 Fax: (845) 352-9593