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Ms. Frankel and Ms. Fox, both 17, are the authors of "Breaking the Code" (New
American Library), a new book that seeks to bridge the generational divide
between parents and adolescents. It is being promoted by its publisher as the
first self-help guide by teenagers for their parents, a kind of "Kids Are From
Mars, Parents Are From Venus" that demystifies the language and actions of
Both girls are seniors at Fieldston, the private school in the Bronx. They
began writing more than a year ago after hearing a talk at their school by a
psychologist who aimed to help parents make better sense of their children. The
girls thought they could do even better. Encouraged by a teacher who put them in
touch with a literary agent, they offered themselves as scouts showing the way
across the forbidding terrain of the adolescent mind.
Their intention, they tell parents in their introduction, is to provide a
"guide to what teens really hear when you speak, and how you can make them hear
what you are actually trying to say." Their efforts to explain why an apparently
innocuous remark so often elicits a tantrum or worse might be meaningful, Ms.
Fox suggested in the interview, if the result is "one less week of silent
treatment from your teenager."
Writing on consecutive Saturdays from November to June between homework
assignments and preparation for their SAT's, the girls tackled issues including
curfews, money, school pressures, smoking and sibling rivalry.
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