Wednesday, April 30, 2014

New Book Shows You How To Survive Parenting Teenagers

There are 43 million teens and tweens living in the United States.  How will parents raise them to be happy, healthy and successful individuals amid the challenges, dangers, and distractions?  Parenting a teen poses more danger and opportunities than when today’s parent was a teen 20-30 years ago. Luckily, a new book helps the 21st century parent troubleshoot through the landmine of issues.

“There’s a strange new creature living under your roof,” says Joani Geltman, MSW, author of a new book, A Survival Guide To Parenting Teens: Talking To Your Kids About Sexting, Drinking, Drugs,
and Other Things That Freak You Out (AMACOM, May 20).  “Your job now is to figure out what makes teenagers tick, and to steer them to productive paths – away from the lures and dangers of drinking, drugging, sexting, bullying, and other bad decisions.”

Media Connect is promoting this book and I must say it is one that I feel like every parent can use. I know as a parent of a 9- and 6-year-old, teens are not far behind and I find this guide invaluable.

From lying, hanging with a bad crowd, spending too much time online, and falling grades, the teenage years can be an uphill battle.  Her book is a no-nonsense guide you need to get your teen talking, listening, and acting appropriately. Geltman covers 80 areas of concern for those raising teenagers in today’s hyper-sexual, super-social, non-stop digital environment, including these:

·         How to protect against the invasion of social media and its influence on your child’s sleep, safety, social life, academics, and reputation.
·         How to discuss drinking, drugs, and other harmful substances and situations.
·         What to say when discussing sexuality, sexting, date rape, online predators, and sexual harassment.
·         What to watch for in regards to bullying, eating disorders, cutting, and depression.
·         How to help your child navigate the challenging, awkward, and sometimes violent moments of youth.
·         How to ensure your child is succeeding in school, despite the distractions of life – and on a path towards college.
·         How to show your teen how his or her attitude and actions have consequences – and how to hold them accountable.
·         A 4-step roadmap on how to argue and communicate with your teen.
·         How to avoid criminal behavior for your teen – either as perpetrator or victim.
·         How to plan for your partying teenager – whether inside or outside the house.

“No kid is perfect, not even yours,” adds Geltman. “Perhaps your teen is engaging in risky behaviors that are scaring the hell out of you, or he won’t talk to you, or he isn’t even trying to reach for his potential, or he’s generally unlikable.  It’s probably been hard to find the joy in the relationship.  Believe me, your teen gets your disappointment.  And when this disappointment feels pervasive in your relationship, it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.  ‘If my parents think I’m a loser, then I might as well start being a loser!’  It’s important to break the cycle.”

Geltman is a leading parent expert, with four decades of experience in working with youth, including as a psychology professor, school counselor and social worker, a family therapist, and a parenting coach.  She holds a Masters degree in social work from Washington University and has been quoted or published by USA Today, Psychology Today, Boston Globe and The Washington Post.  She’s also a successful parent, having raised Ari Graymor, a movie actress who is starring in the new CBS television series, Bad Teacher.

Just as parents-to-be read What To Expect When You’re Expecting, parents of teens need a supportive, insightful guide to nurture parents through the pitfalls of their child’s toughest years and inevitably scores of challenging situations. A Survival Guide To Parenting Teens is just such a book.

Below is a Q and A with the author:

1.                  What is the most challenging part to parenting a teenager? For most parents, trying to understand why their teen does so many “stupid” things, makes so many “stupid” decisions, and doesn’t want to listen to their advice gained from so many years of experience is crazy making! Without understanding what drives their teen’s behavior, parents just go from one crisis to the next, throwing around consequences and punishments hoping that something they do will stick and change their teen’s terrifying ways. But alas, just saying don’t do it or you better not, and then grounding them when they do, does not change behavior. Many parents of teens feel an enormous loss of control. “Because I said so” is no longer an effective parenting tool. You cannot parent a teenager the same way you parent a younger child. It is this redefining of parenting style that most parents of teens are unprepared for.

2.                  Which subjects freak parents out the most – discussing sex, alcohol and drugs, social media, school, or issues like depression? I think the issues like drugs/sex/social media are front and center because parents are forced to deal with them on a daily basis. They are “in your face” kind of issues. Many, many teens are dealing with depression and anxiety these days, but they are good at masking them with…. drugs/alcohol/sex and social networking. Parents then are dealing with symptoms of possible depression and anxiety, doing too much of all those other things which are avoidance behaviors. Also parents worry that drugs/alcohol/sex and social networking will negatively impact their kid’s success in school. PS, it will!

3.                  Doesn’t every stage of parenting present hurdles and roadblocks? What’s so different about the teen years? Teen brains are experiencing enormous growth. This means that they are literally seeing the world through a new lens. Additionally in adolescence, the emotional part of the teen brain is in higher activation than their thinking brain, which is completely opposite from the way an adult brain functions. This means teen behavior is driven by emotion and impulse rather than by the rational and the thoughtful. Except for the first 18 months of life, there is no other time in life when there is such extreme brain change. It’s biology baby! For parents this is scary because just as their teen’s brain sees the “awesomeness” of it all, they are exposed to experiences that carry tremendous risk.

4.                  Your daughter went on to star in a network television show.  Does this mean you did something right as a parent? Ari’s success is totally a reflection of her hard work and talent; we take no credit for that. What we did do as parents was to know and understand who she was and what turned her on. We supported her passion which she exhibited at a very early age and found her opportunities to participate to her little heart’s content. As she got older that definitely meant some job-juggling for my husband and I. Because Ari was an only child, we were able to do that and she was able to take advantage of acting opportunities that required some significant chauffeuring and time management. But I think our real gift to her was staying out of her way. We were all very clear about boundaries; we were her chauffeurs, catering service and supporters, not her directors, managers and agents.

5.                  Let’s discuss real-life issues.  How do you advise parents of teenagers who are being bullied online? The first issue is availability. Teens can be gluttons for punishment. Get them off the sites and apps where bulling occurs and block the kids who are taunting them from those sites. If a bully doesn’t have access to his/her victim than that can take all the fun out of bullying. But in order for that to happen parents have got to be on top of what apps and sites their kids are on in the first place. Many parents stay way to hands-off with their kids phones and computers. Monitoring a teen’s phone and computer use is a necessary evil. There may always be some trash taking between teens, but when the line is crossed by threats and serious emotional abuse, transcripts should be presented to school administrators. 

6.                  How should a parent talk to their child about sex, sexting, and dating? With understanding and honesty. Parents should really try to stay off the lecture circuit. Telling teens how they should behave will fall mostly on deaf ears. Saying: “ I get you are going to be interested in sex. I know I’ll have to get used to thinking about you in this new way. I know you will be in situations that you have never been in before with boys/girls. I also know kids talk to each other in very sexy language, and I’m guessing that can be pretty fun, but it can also get you into real trouble. Here are some of the things I do not want to see on your phone or computer.” Parents should say all those “dirty” words they do not want on their kid's phone. Saying “inappropriate language” just won’t cut it. Kids need to hear what it sounds like out loud!.

7.                  What can a parent do to keep the lines of communication flowing with their teenager, to ensure honesty, openness, and forthrightness? The biggest barriers to open communication are words that criticize and judge. For example when parents see their teen wasting time online and texting when they are supposed to be doing their homework, they are more likely to say: “Stop being so lazy, and get off that damn phone.” Rather than: “I get how important your friends are to you, and how important it is for you to check in with them, but homework is important too, and we need to find a strategy that gives you time for both.” Now, instead of teens feeling like they have a character flaw, which pushes them into arguing and defense mode, they can work on solving a problem.

8.                  What do parents need to understand about what their teen child is going through psychologically and physically? Puberty absolutely sucks! This wreaks havoc in a teen’s life; too tall, too short, big boobs, no boobs, acne. From the second a teen wakes up in the morning and looks in that mirror, and sees live and in person their perceived inadequacies, the mood for their day is set. One pimple can ruin a day. Because of new brain growth, teens are now hyper-aware of what other people think about them. This self-consciousness can be paralyzing. Unfortunately parents get the worst of it. When teens are with their friends they have to be “all good,” but at home the stress of this new body and brain shows in sullenness, and attitude. The most difficult part of this puberty business is there really is no way of making it better; you just have to wait it out. Parents can’t “make it all better.” For the fix-it parent this is a tough slog.

9.                  What are four typical mistakes or assumptions parents make about their teen children?  Parents think that their teens do not want to spend time with them. WRONG. In a survey I did with teens in 9-12th grades, almost all the kids said they wish they could spend more time with their parents. Just don’t do it on a weekend night!

Labeling their teen. Many parents see their teens doing bad things, and label them as bad. Not true!! There is a huge learning curve during the teen years. Part of the process of leaning is making mistakes, and making bad choices. Making these learning opportunities rather than just punishing “bad behavior” is what changes behavior.

Over-thinking and over problem-solving. Many times teens come to their parents to just vent about a situation they are having trouble with. They aren’t looking for a fix, just a shoulder to lean on. Parents like fixing, and go right to the “here’s what I think you should do…” Teens then react with anger, and “you just don’t understand.” And the lovely moment has gone ugly.

Unrealistic expectation. Not all teens are meant to be honor roll students. Some have strengths in other area that as life goes on will be equally if not more important in the long run of adulthood.

10.              How has parenting a teen, circa 1984, changed from raising one today? As teens, this generation of parents experienced much of what their teens are experiencing; teen angst, puberty, alcohol, drugs, sex, so at least that gives them some perspective. But technology was not a part of their teen years. Unfortunately we have all jumped in the pool together and parents and teens are sharing in the excitement of all this new technology simultaneously. But teenage use and adult use are not the same, and no one was prepared for how all this technology could and does impact a teen’s life. Who knew teens would  be sending naked pictures and using language fit for 1-900-SEXY as just part of the normal teenage experience, or that the family TV would become a dusty relic as teens hunker down in their caves watching movies, playing games and getting naked away from the prying eyes of mom and dad.

For more information, please consult: and
Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2014

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