By Ogova Ondego
Published January 28, 2017
Life on the Edge—written by one of the most respected psychologists in the world—is a guide to a meaningful future for any person aged between 16 and 26 years in today’s world. This is the person who is about to inherit businesses, governments and other institutions of the world. But how prepared for this responsibility is this ‘leader of tomorrow’?
To prepare such a leader for the task at hand, US psychologist and author, James Dobson, addresses issues which concern such a person during what he terms as the critical decade. The paperback seeks to equip the young person with the skills to enable him or her make right choices, get control of his or her life and look forward to a brighter future.
Quoting heavily from his own life and presenting the facts in a friendly chat, Dr Dobson writes, “Life on the Edge is my lifework, my effort to help our next generation bridge the gap between adolescence and adulthood.”
Dr Dobson contends that some of the most dramatic and permanent choices in life—career, family, values – are made between 16 and 26 years. Mistakes and errors made during this critical decade, therefore, are likely to ruin one’s life for good.
“It is very easy to get off the trail and into the ditch in the morning of our lives,” writes Dobson.
Comparing life to a calm and serene river which suddenly gets rough throwing sailors into turmoil, he writes, “No one travels down the river of life without encountering turbulence.”
Dobson says that only those who succeed are those that brace themselves for any eventuality. This is especially so in the permissive 21st century which is riskier than any other period in history as today’s youth are dealing with temptations and pressures never encountered by any other generation – drugs, violence, sex.
“I urge you to be extremely careful in the selection of a mate,” the author writes. He says the quality of the bond during courtship is the key to successful marriage. He advises the reader never to “marry someone who has characteristics that you feel are intolerable” in the hope that the person will change as it may never happen.
Dr Dobson provides 17 principles for singles intending marriage some of which include:
• Don’t let a relationship move too fast in its infancy
• Don’t discuss your personal inadequacies and flaws in detail when the relationship is just beginning
• Don’t call too often on phone to avoid being ditched
• Don’t show feelings of dependency and hopelessness
• Don’t be too quick in revealing you want marriage.
Stressing that contentment—craving money , power and status can lead one into compromising one’s values—is key to a successful life, Dobson lists six things to consider when choosing a career:
• Something you genuinely like to do
• Something you have the ability to do
• Something to earn a living by doing
• Something you are permitted to do
• Something that brings cultural affirmation
• Something God approves of
The writer argues that all the six things listed above must be met at the same time for one to succeed as a professional.
Granted, the book may be drawing heavily from Christian morality, but its tackling of issues from the cradle to the grave and beyond gives it universal application.
That Dr Dobson makes little attempt at patronising the readers or talking down to them, opting for an easy, informal and friendly approach to the issues at hand enhances the value of this paperback that I can classify as a classic.
Other James Dobson books on the subject under discussion include The Strong-Willed Child, Preparing for Adolescence and Dare to Discipline.