Last updated on February 26th, 2024 at 04:03 pm
The teenage years can be a challenging time – for both parents and kids. It feels like we’re in unchartered territory and sometimes it’s tricky to know what’s ‘normal’ and what isn’t. That’s where books about parenting teens can come in handy. They can provide reassurance, support and helpful parenting strategies for the teenage years. As a parent to a teen and a tween, and a social worker who works with many families in tricky situations, here are my top picks when it comes to books on parenting teens.
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Anxiety has become increasingly commonplace in children and teens. This book explains why – highlighting the contributing factors such as relationships, drugs, alcohol and video games.
Part 3 of the book is entitled ‘Filling Your Toolbox’ and it’ll give you some good ideas for what could help, from improving sleep patterns to providing opportunities for ‘awe and wonder’ for your teen.
Accessible and broken down into easy-to-read sections, this book is a valuable manual for parents of teens.
Gary Chapman has written several books on Love Languages and they’ve found a significant audience.
If you’re not familiar with them, Love Languages are the different ways in which people both express and receive love and affection. Often, we can be out of alignment with those close to us. We might be showing our partner or children love in a way that feels normal to us – but it could be viewed very differently by them.
This book will help you think about what your teen might need from you – and how you might need to tweak the way in which you’re showing them affection.
First came How To Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk, then came this – very much welcomed -follow-up.
I love Faber and Mazlish’s illustrative examples of potential scenarios. Topics include managing feelings, working things out together and dealing with sex and drugs.
One of the most practical and down-to-earth books on parenting teens with some positive parenting strategies for the teenage years.
I heard about Tsabary’s book on Oprah Winfrey’s podcast. She was clear that her views might not go down well with some parents but she’s passionate about getting her message across.
Her main message is: to change yourself and your approach as a parent – before expecting your child’s behaviour to change. Your child’s behaviour is nearly always a response to the parenting they’re experiencing, and while she leaves blame at the door, she does encourage parents to work on themselves first and foremost (becoming more conscious of what we do and how we interact with others).
Themes also include accepting your child as they are, celebrating their ordinariness (I love this concept and found it really refreshing) and allowing them more freedom to find their own way in life.
You might know Philippa Perry as an agony aunt for several popular newspapers and magazines, and wife to artist Grayson Perry. I’ve always loved her thoughtful and insightful responses to problems presented to her and knew I wanted to read this book as soon as it came out.
Perry is refreshingly honest – one of my favourite bits of her book is her sharing how she told her (then young) daughter she felt bored on a visit to the park. While she shared this information with her daughter sensitively, no doubt, the thought that we should be a little bit more honest with our kids about how we are feeling as individuals (no blame attached) is something worth thinking about.
Definitely one of the top 10 parenting books for modern times, and one to buy if you’re keen to find out how to raise a successful teenager!
Borba writes with the aim of helping parents shift their kids’ focus from ‘I’ and ‘Me’ to ‘Us’ and ‘We”. She states that teens today are 40% less empathetic than they were 30 years ago and her book seeks to establish why – and how parents and educators can help.
The book is divided into three parts: Developing Empathy, Practicing Empathy and Living Empathy. Unselfie is a fortifying read in a sea of information focused on how children should achieve and reach their potential academically.
Lots on neuroscience here from scientist Sarah-Jayne Blakemore. She looks at how the adolescent brain develops during the teen years and answers questions such as ‘Why does an easy child become a challenging one?’ and ‘Why is it that so many mental illnesses begin during these formative years?’.
There’s lots of information contained in this book but it is presented clearly. It’s definitely one for those who like their ideas backed by science.
Focusing on teenage girls, Lisa Damour discusses the seven ‘strands’ of transition from childhood through to adolescence and on to adulthood. These are: parting with childhood, joining a new tribe, harnessing emotions, contending with adult authority, planning for the future, entering the romantic world and caring for herself.
Along the way, the author provides tips and ideas for parents to support their daughter through each stage and at the end of each chapter is a section on ‘when to worry’ so you can easily recognise those red flags.
One of the best books on raising girls.
In this book on parenting teenage girls, psychologist Leonard Sax explores the contrast between girls’ external presentations and their inner sense of selves – often much more fragile than we might perceive.
Sax highlights ‘four factors’: sexual identity (the pressure to match up to expectations at an increasingly younger age), the impact of social media, the tendency to develop obsessions, and environmental toxins which may be leading to the early onset of puberty. I must admit I hadn’t thought much about these last two – but they’re definitely on my radar now.
Building Resilience in Children and Teens: Giving Kids Roots and Wings – Kenneth R Ginsburg with Martha M Jablow
Resilience is a skill which young people require now more than ever, particularly with the speed at which the world around us is changing.
This book focuses on both trauma and adverse childhood events, as well as topics such as the stresses related to academic pressure, peer pressure and messages they face from social media.
It’s an accessible book with some good strategies to help. The authors give examples of what’s appropriate for a range of ages within the teen bracket.
Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men – Leonard Sax
Written by the same author as ‘Girls on the Edge’, this book examines whether we have created an environment that is toxic to boys, leading to failure in school and disengagement at home.
There are chapters on how schools view boys, how video games have had an impact, and prescription medications. Sax also talks about the loss of positive male role models and changing inter-generational family relationships.
One of the best books for parenting teenagers if you’ve been concerned about your son’s lack of motivation recently and you’re specifically looking for books on raising teenage boys.
Friendships matter hugely to teens and form a big part of their identity at this stage of their development. In one of the best selling teenage parenting books, Mate and Nuefeld argue that, since this happens at the same time teens are detaching from their parents, problems can occur.
The authors look at how peer influence has come to replace parental influence, and in parts four and five, what we can do to counteract what’s happening. If this is a worry for you, it might be worth giving this book a try.
The final part, part six, looks at the digital age in which we’re living and how this has more recently added to the predicament.
Teenage boys are often misunderstood. As a parent, when you see a lack of motivation, you might jump to the conclusion that it’s laziness (I’ve certainly done that). This book seeks to put that misconception straight.
Price highlights four potential reasons your son might not be fulfilling his potential. Although Price has this to say about potential (which I love): “Potential is a wolf in sheep’s clothing – it’s a term that sounds like it is all about growth, but which has really become synonymous with competition.”
The author discusses the impact of pressure on our sons – the expectation that they should be independent and achieving before they are necessarily ready. Laziness is often confused with a lack of confidence or belief in oneself. There is support we can give as parents, however, and that’s all covered in Part 2 of this book.
One of the top picks for books on parenting boys.
Journalist Lorraine Candy’s book is a light-hearted but poignant read for parents of teen girls (or those soon to become them). It’s reassuring – you’ll no doubt recognise many of the behaviours mentioned – and funny too.
One to pick if you’d appreciate a bit of humour with your parenting advice!
The Danish Way of Raising Teens: What the Happiest People in the World Know About Raising Confident, Healthy Teenagers With Character – Iben Dissing Sandahl
This is a follow-up to ‘The Danish Way of Parenting’ and written by the co-author of that book. Dissing Sandahl examines Danish values and the Danes’ way of life and how these contribute to the country producing (mainly) well-adjusted teenagers.
There are ten core values, she says, that encourage uniqueness, authenticity and good communication. There’s plenty here to encourage you in relation to what you’re doing right, as well as tips for what could be improved upon.
To reassure you you’re not alone, head to 34 Quotes About Parenting Teenagers – I’m sure some will have you smiling in recognition!