The teenage years can be a bit of a shock. Logically, of course, you know they are coming. But it’s impossible to predict exactly how your lovely, loving child will change when they hit the teenage years. Or how you will react as a parent when they do.
Parenting teenagers requires us to adapt our parenting style. Some of us come into our element in the teenage years – this period fits well with our natural parenting style. Things that we were doing ‘wrong’ in earlier years become ‘right’ in the teenage years. Others of us get pulled completely out of our comfort zone and everything we have learnt as parents in the preceding decade no longer seems to work.
Whatever your experience, it’s a good time to reach for a book or two to help you understand what’s going on in your teenager’s brain and reflect on your new family dynamics. To help you choose, here’s my take on a selection of the bestselling books on parenting teenagers.
Get Out of My Life by Tony Wolf and Suzanne Franks is one of those books on parenting teenagers that lots of people swear by. I came to it a bit late (having studied the teenage brain and with three teenage boys in the house already). But I imagine it could be a real eye-opener for parents who have woken up one day to find an alien teenager in the house. It’s also very funny, which is a fabulous antidote to teenage conflict and rejection. Laugh and it doesn’t hurt nearly so much! This is a book that is well grounded in the real world of messy families and imperfect parents.
(No time for a book? Quick read alternative: A beginner’s guide to parenting teenagers)
One of the biggest challenges in the teenage years is maintaining good communication. That’s not easy in the face of a volatile or withdrawn teenager. It’s easy to fall into negative interaction habits. So, if you have found yourself in constant conflict or your teenager has turned monsyllabic, it’s a good time to think about how you are talking and how you are (or are not) listening. How to talk so teens will listen by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish is a really practical book that will help you reflect on your role in creating a positive dynamic with your teenager.
The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults by Frances Jensen is one for brain geeks. It charts the changes that take place inside teenagers’ brains and how these can explain typical teenage behaviour (such as impulsivity, risk-taking, mood swings, lack of insight, forgetfulness, and poor judgement). There is quite a lot of technical detail but understanding the neurological drivers of the more frustrating aspects of teenage behaviour might just help you to cope with some of the tribulations of trying to parent one!
UPDATE January 2020: If you want a slightly less technical explanation of the teenage brain, with a few more practical pointers on how to manage teen behaviour, check out my review of this great new book The Incredible Teenage Brain.
(No time for a book? Quick read alternative: What’s going on in my teenager’s brain?!)
The teen version of the Triple P parenting self-help workbooks is a actually a printed parenting course for parents of teenagers. The self-help workbook format means it uses prompts and questions to help you reflect and set goals for your family and provides really practical tools for planning and tracking changes. Frustratingly, the Triple P self-help workbooks are not available from booksellers only from accredited Triple P practitioners. Luckily, that includes me, so if you want one just get in touch via the Contact page.
(No time for a book? Triple P also offer an online parenting teenagers course)
Parenting Teenagers by John Sharry is a very sensible book – the opposite of faddish. It looks at parenting teenagers from different angles and gives practical advice. Because it is so broad, it can be a bit hard to take it all in. But that does means it is likely to cover whatever issues you are experiencing (and help you identify some that you hadn’t realised were happening). My main criticism is that (just like all the books on parenting teenagers I know) it is a bit out of date. It doesn’t cover managing teens’ tech use well – the strategies are there but you’ll need to work out how to apply them.
(No time for a book? Quick read alternative: Parenting teenagers without conflict)
I hope you find these recommendations for books on parenting teenagers useful. If there is a parenting book that you would really like to recommend to other parents, please do pop it in the comments below!
This is not a sponsored post and it contains my honest opinions. However, this post does contain affiliate links which means that if you click through from this post and buy the book on Amazon, I will receive a small fee. For more details, see my Disclosure Notice.
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©Anita Cleare 2018