Being a Good External Frontal Lobe: Parenting Teenage Brains

T. Van de Werff*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic

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Knowledge of adolescent brain development is increasingly being used by pedagogues, family coaches, and other parenting professionals to tell parents what to do with their teenage children. The promise is that knowledge of the teenage brain not only explains "typical" adolescent behavior, but also provides an answer to the timely question of how to be a good parent. This chapter explores how the popular notion of the teenage brain is made valuable in Dutch parenting discourse to address concerns and ideals of good parenting-in short, questions of ethics. Instead of providing an inconclusive answer, parenting experts mobilize the teenage brain to reconcile different and sometimes conflicting parental norms, resulting in two distinct moral repertoires of parenting as "external frontal lobe." The case of the teenage brain as parenting advice indicates the constitutive role norms, values, and ideas of the good play in the diffusion of neuroscience knowledge into society.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Human Sciences after the Decade of the Brain
EditorsJon Leefmann, Elisabeth Hildt
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages17
ISBN (Print)9780128042601, 9780128042052
Publication statusPublished - 13 Feb 2017


  • Ethics of emerging technologies
  • Neuroethics
  • Science valorization
  • Scientific parenting
  • Teenage brains

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