Note: The publisher of this book sent me a copy to review for you. My opinion about the book is entirely my own.
Dr. John Duffy, a clinical psychologist and parenting expert, works professionally with teens, tweens and their families. In his new book, The Available Parent, he teaches parents to minimize conflict and maximize satisfaction in their relationships with their adolescents.
It was the subtitle to the book that caught my attention: radical optimism for raising teens and tweens.
There is so much negativity out there about being the parent of an adolescent. We're all so scared of teenage pregnancy, drug and alcohol use, failing grades and all of the other horrible fates awaiting these people who were our babies five minutes ago.
Dr. Duffy does something pretty mind-blowing in his book. He encourages parents to be optimistic. Radically optimistic. He suggests that if we're going to have to have good relationships with our teenagers, we have to accept them the way they are. We have to understand that acceptance, without judgement, is the most important gift we can give them.
The Available Parent starts with an in depth conversation about a teenager's world. Our kids are growing up in a digital age, where a huge amount of information is readily available with very few filters. Parents need to understand and accept that their teenager's world is different from the world they grew up in.
Dr. Duffy talks about the things that never work in the effort to be available to our kids. He offers advice about a wide variety of parenting approaches that will probably ring a bell, either from your own experiences as a parent or from your own teenage memories.
Instead, Dr. Duffy gives advice about the techniques that have worked for his clients and their teenagers. The most important thing he gives, though, is hope. Hope that your child's growing pains don't mean they are growing away from you. Hope that if you take the risk of being totally available and non-judgmental as a parent, your children will feel comfortable talking to you and actually listening to your advice.
The Available Parent is a great book that's become a permanent part of my own parenting library, and is one I strongly recommend to you.