Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Book Review: Surviving Your Adolescents, by Thomas W. Phelan, Ph.D.

When my friend Nancy and I take our regular walks at night, we often find ourselves talking about our teenagers. I’ve parented my oldest son through the teen years (he’s now 22), and my second son, age 19, is the same age as Nancy’s oldest son. Nancy also has a younger son who is 15. So, we have a lot to discuss! As you can probably guess, many of our stories are negative. We find ourselves saying things about our sons like, “He won’t tell me anything!” Or, “He’s so rude to me, but so nice to his friends!” And, “Why won’t he listen to me?” Teenagers can be incredibly frustrating for parents!

But Dr. Thomas W. Phelan says in his new book, Surviving Your Adolescents: How to Manage and Let Go of Your 13-18 Year Olds (3rd edition), that parents can have an easier time of it by learning to better understand their teen’s behavior and acquiring new ways of responding to it. For instance, Dr. Phelan describes a scene that parents of teens go through almost every day: The Snub. How many times have you had this conversation with your adolescent?

You: How was your day?
Teen: Fine.
You: What did you do?
Teen: Nothin’.

In other words, getting more than a one-syllable answer is excruciating! We want to be involved in our child’s life, and yet the more we try, the more he or she pulls away. What’s a parent to do?

Dr. Phelan gives very practical and realistic solutions for helping parents to cope with the frustrations of parenting teens. The big surprise is that the solution isn’t necessarily to try to change your kid because if he or she is exhibiting many of the exasperating behaviors described in this book, that’s normal! Therefore, you’ll need to make some changes in yourself in order to lower your frustration level and get through the teen years with minimal conflict.

Surviving Your Adolescents covers topics such as establishing house rules, managing the big four risks (driving; drug or alcohol use; sex and romance; technology), the four “cardinal sins” (spur-of-the-moment problem discussions; nagging; insight transplants; arguing), four positive substitutes (sympathetic listening; talking about yourself; shared fun; positive reinforcement), and much more. Best of all, this book is about taking care of yourself as a frustrated parent of a teen and increasing your happiness. Every parent of an adolescent should read this book! CLICK HERE to order Surviving Your Adolescents.


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