Author: Joani Geltman, MSW
In A Survival Guide to Parenting Teens, author Joani Geltman, MSW, shares with readers a selection of 80 known problems that parents are currently facing or will potentially face while raising teenagers. As a parenting coach, clinician, public speaker and college professor, Geltman has more than 30 years of expertise working with parents and children and she draws from her large pool of experience to give parents short and effective, valuable, and even fun-loving solutions to these problems that will help them understand and communicate better with their teens.
Geltman divides the book into 10 parts, and each part heading is labeled with a question as if a parent is receiving coaching from her face to face. The questions are: Just Tell Me What To Do About ….1) Raising a teen; 2) Keeping my teen motivated and engaged in school; 3) Navigating the college process; 4) Helping my teen avoid friendship traps; 5) Drinking and drugs; 6) Understanding and dealing with my teen’s sex life; 7) Online and phone sexting; 8) Cellphones and smartphones 9) Social networking sights and applications; 10) My parenting style. Geltman then delivers a series of specific problems and solutions under each part that provide parents insight to the kinds of issues their teen might face and why and how to deal with the problem at hand. For example, problem #54 in the book is:
Does my teen text too much?
If so what can I do about it?
Each problem is then answered in a three-fold system where she gives brief personal examples, new perspectives about the way teens think and act with effective advice under the following headings:
Here’s the Problem
Why It’s a Problem
Here’s the Solution
Though Geltman is giving practical advice to some pretty serious problems, her warmth and humor buoy parents up, making them feel that with the right communication and understanding, parents and teens might actually coexist peacefully in this world!
Parts I liked Best:
I greatly appreciated that the author shares real-world examples and situations that she has encountered while coaching parents about their teens because they help the reader understand the gravity of the very real problems that teens are currently facing. For example, one can accurately assume that cameras on cell phones and social media can be a problematic combination for teenagers. However, the reality of that problem really hits home when Geltman describes a situation where a young man is arrested for video recording a frenzied substitute teacher and then blasting it all over social media. She drives home the point that teens, in their eagerness for fun and entertainment, do not always think through consequences, nor do they always understand the legal ramifications for their actions. As parents, it is incredibly important to know what the laws are regarding social media and we have to teach our children before we give them access to smart phones and other media devices.
A Survival Guide to Parenting Teens is laced with humor and Geltman teaches parents to use the same technique with their teens. Many drag-out fights can be avoided with teens simply by distracting teens with humor and conveying the message that you as the adult are in control, and although the teen can be mad and upset, the parent doesn’t have to be. Geltman also drives home the point that teens need to feel understood and she encourages parents to use statements like I get why you’re upset or I can see why this is important to you before you tell a teen NO, rather than putting your teen on the defense because they just don’t think like us.
As parents, it is safe to say that we didn’t go through extensive training before we signed up for the job. There are many, many situations where parents feel completely stumped when it comes to how to deal with a situation with their teen and what to say to them. The format of this book makes it easy to look up a problem you are potentially having and then review the recipe for quick and sound solutions. I found this book to be a page-turner and I appreciated the education on not only what teens are currently dealing with but also for the practical know-how on how to approach and communicate with teens.
How this book made an impact on my life, especially as a mother:
At first, I wasn’t sure how pertinent this book would be for me, being that my oldest child is 8 years old, but I am so grateful for the coaching this book lent me in giving me a head start to think about what my rules and parenting style will be for my teens. There are certain sections in the book where my solutions might vary somewhat, but the author gives parents advice in a way where I feel encouraged to use my own belief system and family values to create an environment for my future teens where there is humor, open communication and a clear understanding of why our family’s rules are there to protect them. This is truly a fantastic book for mothers with children at any age. I especially appreciate the very last section of the book where the author reminds parents to find the bliss with your teen and treasure the time! I think this is great advice for children at any age. At times we get so bogged down with the hardships and problems that arise in raising children and we sometimes forget to stop and really enjoy who our children are. She tells parents rather than trying to make our children who we want them to be (maybe a doctor or lover of music) we need to take the time to actively participate in what they enjoy. In the end, what we think about our children can become a self-fulfilling prophesy for them and what really matters is that we are a source of unconditional love and security. This book reminds me of a phrase I love: When the going gets tough–Love harder!
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